By Judith Sibanda
Victoria Falls, February 11, 2016 – Angry residents in the resort town have accused the Zanu PF controlled council of corruption and ignoring input from ratepayers when formulating budgets.
The residents made the allegations at a heated meeting organised by Transparency International Zimbabwe in the resort town on Wednesday.
Trymore Ndolo, a local activist said the local authority was used to making unilateral decisions with far reaching effects on the affairs of the town without involving rate payers.
“They make decisions without involvement of local community and they are undermining good corporate governance,” Ndolo said.
“The government put a strategic plan – ZimAsset – that governs even the local council but it is a pity that they go against that programme.”
He said residents had no say in the local authority’s proposed $20 million budget for this year as there were no consultations as per government policy.
Ndolo said council refused to revise the budget before submitting it to the government for approval despite residents raising objections.
“We are happy because we heard that it was sent back for revision,” he said.
“We agreed that the council beer gardens were not going to be leased out and suddenly we read it in the newspapers that they have resolved to offer them to employees.
“Even the salary cut which was a directive from the government is yet to be implemented.”
The government is yet to approve council’s budget for this year after council failed to heed a directive to cap the town clerk’s salary at $ 3 200.
Last month council said it had resolved to lease out its two loss making beer gardens to employees because they had become a burden for the local authority.
Another resident, Vusumuzi Moyo said council had also ignored residents’ concerns over the sale of housing stands, which were deemed too expensive for locals.
The residents said they feared to report corruption cases because there was a threat of victimisation for whistle blowers.
They resolved to set up a committee to monitor council expenditure to curb corruption.
Misheck Dube said failure by council to attend the meeting showed that they did not take residents’ concerns seriously.
“Why are the council officials not here? We want them here because we know each individual’s scandal and we will confront them,” he charged.
“Now they are saying (newly released housing) stands go for $50 000 each but who can raise that money within a year except for a thief.
“They only want to say they offered us and we did not take the offers. But they will take the stands and sell them to outsiders at cheaper prices.”
Last month, council was in the eye of a storm after it advertised housing stands worth over $50 000 where buyers were expected to earn at least $5 000 to be eligible to buy the land.
Residents claimed the move was a ploy to sell the 200 low density housing stands to outsiders and the rich because few locals could afford the prices.
According to a statement by council, the stands from Aerodrome Extension (BB7) were at least 2 000 square metres and their prices range from $32 000 to $50 000.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Zimbabwe officials encouraged residents to report corruption and pledged to help those who felt cheated by council.