Gweru Residents Reject Standstill Budget

By Mark Mhukayesango

GWERU, November 12, 2015- RESIDENTS here have rejected a proposed $31 million budget, although
council has cut tariffs by 10 percent ,saying they were not consulted
in the drafting of the budget.
They also say there are pending issues of corruption which need to be
dealt with before coming up with a fresh budget which residents feel
will lead to further misappropriation of funds.
The 2016 budget is a standstill budget which was also rejected by
residents last year because of a 35 percent increase in tariffs across
the board, but council went ahead with the proposal which was approved
by government in July.
“This is the same budget that we rejected last year so we will go and
consult our members to find out whether they will adopt it or not,”
said Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association chairperson, Cornelias
Selipiwe.
Selipiwe told Radio VOP that the outcome is likely to be the same
after the consultation meetings in various wards.
“How can they even start to talk about another budget when we did not
agree on last year’s budget?,” he fumed.
Residents blasted the commission and council management for taking
them for granted ,by presenting a budget they knew would be adopted
without their input.
“We are wasting our time here gentlemen because these people have
already made up their minds with regards to the budget,” a resident
fumed at a budget consultation meeting here today.
Gweru United Residents Association (GURA) chairperson Mhuri said
council should have maintained 2014 $21 million budget there have not
been major changes to council operations.
“We rejected last year’s budget because it over burdens the residents
who have low disposable income. The 2014 budget is ideal because our
expenses are still the same, this is just a ploy to embezzle funds,”
said Mhuri.
Although Finance Director ,Edgar Mwedzi said the budget had taken into
consideration the plight of residents by reducing water tariffs,
residents still feel council could have done more to reduce cost of
water.
“That slight decrease is because of a portion on water charges we also
reduced,” Mwedzi told residents.
Domestic consumption water charge per cubic meter up to 20 cubic
meters was reduced from 80 cents to 70 cents. Consumption of 21 to 30
cubic meters from $1.20 to $1.05, 31 to 50 cubic meters from $1.60 to
$1.40, 51 to 100 cubic meters from $2 to $1.75 while more than 100
cubic meters consumption was reduced from $2.50 to $2.20 per cubic
meter.
Commercial and industrial consumption of one to 100 cubic meters was
reduced from $1.60 to $1.40 per cubic meter while that above 100 cubic
meters from $1 to 90 cents. Raw water charges were reduced to 90 cents
from $1 per cubic meter.
“Our move is to make sure everyone gets water at manageable levels,”
said Mwedzi.
Residents also bemoaned lack of time to analyse the budget which the
ministry wants submitted on November 20.
To hold public hearings , residents associations have to notify the
police four days prior to the meeting in order to get clearance.
“The police require a clearance before we can take the proposed budget
to the people. So there is no time,” a residents association member
said.
But Gweru Commissioner Tsunga Mhangami pleaded with the residents to
expedite the adoption of the budget so as to avoid delays.
“This year we only had our budget approved in July which was late. So
we need to fast track the process so that we can meet the deadline,”
Mhangami pleaded.
“We were given up to the 5th of November but asked for more time,” he said.
Residents still maintain that they need more time and say that council
management was not committed to seeing a turnaround in Gweru fortunes
by clandestinely crafting a budget.