Poor attendance mar budget meetings

16 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views


The grim picture of the lack of interest in council operations displayed by residents in the ongoing City of Harare 2023 pre-budget consultation meetings is worrying given the importance of the process to craft the city’s financial plan.

It appears for wards in the northern suburbs, the Ward 7 meeting attracted the highest number of residents who participated in the process. Thirty-three residents turned up for the meeting held at MacDonald Swimming Pool in Avondale on Sunday. 

Due to time constraints it was agreed to continue the deliberations on the Ward 7 pre-budget consultation WhatsApp chat group.  

The deliberations continued online this week with residents fielding more questions to council officials. 

But the situation was different in other wards which had between 1 and 10 residents turning up for the budget meetings. In Ward 9 (Greendale, Mandara, Msasa, Manresa, Shawasha Hills) a handful of residents turned up. Some Ward 9 ratepayers pointed out that they had missed the notices about the pre-budget meetings after being told the meeting had already been held.  

It was the same story in Ward 18 (Borrowdale, Borrowdale Brooke, Greystone Park, Helensvale, Hogerty Hill, Glen Lorne and Umwinsidale) where a small number of residents attended the budget meeting. In Ward 17 (Mt Pleasant, Mt Pleasant Heights, Northwood, Groombridge, Pomona, Vainona and Borrowdale West) 10 residents were in attendance when the budget consultation was held on Sunday at Kingdom People’s Church in the Mt Pleasant.  But the worst case was in Ward 8 (Highlands, Chisipite, Colne Valley, Rolf Valley, Newlands, Runniville and The Grange) were only one resident turned up for the meeting held on Tuesday evening this week at Highlands District Office. 

Ward 8 Councillor Keith Charumbira and council officials outnumbered Mr Peter Morris, the only resident to turn up for the meeting. 

Although the Ward 8 pre-budget consultation meeting was also being held virtually on online platforms, Suburban could not establish the number of residents who participated online. 

In Ward 41 (Marlborough, Avonlea, Emerald Hill, Bluff Hill, Westgate, Adylin, Ashbrittle, Good Hope and Willow Creek), Councillor Kudzai Kadzombe this week sought to find out if residents were willing to participate in this year’s budget consultations given the fact that last year they boycotted the meeting before rejecting the 2022 budget.  

Councillor Kadzombe wanted to know if the residents were ready to participate and also advised them that she had requested for all the information the residents requested last year through Mr Jackson Murimi from the Chamber Secretary’s Office.   

Last year, Ward 41 and Ward 7 residents boycotted the budget consultations citing the fact that the municipality was just conducting a cosmetic process so that it is seen to be complying with local government laws. 

The residents argued council was not providing adequate information to enable them to make meaningful input in the budget formulation process. 

All this points to the need for the City of Harare to review the way it conducts its budget meetings. 

There might also be need for awareness campaigns by the municipality and residents’ associations to impress upon residents to participate in this key process.

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