Ward 7 bemoans lack of clarity in council reports

16 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Ward 7 bemoans lack of clarity in council reports Ward 7 residents attend a budget meeting at McDonald Swimming Pool.


Suburban Reporter 

WARD 7 residents have demanded explanations over the City of Harare’s (CoH) continued sponsorship of sporting teams which has nothing to do with service delivery and other events which are of no value to the welfare of communities in the capital city.

Residents of the ward gathered at MacDonald Swimming Pool over the weekend to for the Ward 7 pre-budget meeting which ratepayers described as “a fairly good meeting with lot of very frank exchanges on important issues.”

However, the weekend meeting held on Sunday ran out of time and it was agreed the process would continue this week on the Ward 7 Pre-Budget Consultation WhatsApp group chat.

On the online discussions, residents continued probing the City of Harare’s financial status with regards sponsorship of sports and other events not related to service delivery, employment costs and the lack of clarity in some aspects of the city’s financial reports.

“What is the story with CoH’s fancy football team, and other sponsored sporting related clubs, activities or events that are less to do with community welfare and more to do with CoH PR (public relations)?” queried Mr John Vekris, a resident of Avondale West and also vice chairperson of the Ward 7 Ratepayers and Residents Association (W7RRA).

Residents said council has for long not been answering their questions regarding the funding of non-core activities, some secretly, at the expense of health delivery and other services such as refuse collection. 

“Also the various clubs will be sponsored quietly and the amounts will, as usual remain a secret. If we could have a breakdown of which club was sponsored and by how much. This has been a perennial issue which the CoH has always dodged and not answered.  This is important considering we have health issues, water and refuse, which are not adequately catered for. Furthermore, we need medicines in council clinics. All these should take priority over the sponsoring of sporting clubs,” said another resident.

Mr Vekris also requested explanations on why there was a $2,061bn increase in employment costs which some residents said could have been due to salary adjustments as the municipality tried to cushion its workers against rising inflation. 

However, Mr Vekris said inflation could have been the reason for the increase in employment costs but felt the authors of the budget performance report for January to July 2022 should have explained in writing.

Other residents said the employment costs could have been broken down to show what was paid to all the workers and all levels of management in their different grades.

“It would (be) very interesting if they could breakdown the employment costs (salaries plus perks) by categories i.e. directors, middle management and workers etc.,” said one resident.

 Residents also requested the 2018 council audit report saying it was not useful for them to be bombarded with selected and provisional data.   

“A couple of questions I shelved on Sunday afternoon, as the clock was ticking: Where is the 2018 audit report? Can residents see it? Or at least a summary of it? It is no good us always only seeing selected, preliminary, provisional, draft data. Can the more knowledgeable amongst us residents and rate payers see the real thing? At least the official summary? For example, for 2018?” said Mr Vekris.

Residents bemoaned the fact that some of the information in the council budget performance report covering the period January to July 2022 was not clear. 

“Can we have information along the lines suggested, please, Mr Chigodora?  I have also noted to Mrs Shutu that the information presented was not easy to understand. Graphical material should be super clear, with a minimum of tricks. The City gave us a document with insufficient information on many levels and far too much eye candy – dazzling colours and patterns, undefined terms and unreadable text. I have offered to produce a clearer document for them next year, based on their information. Graphs are a serious business and need to be properly designed to convey information,” said a resident Carole Peace, who is also the chairperson of the W7RRA. 

Although council officials attempted to answer residents’ questions, they hardly covered most of the inquiries as has been the case in most such meetings involving the municipality and its stakeholders.

Last year, the Ward 7 boycotted the budget consultations saying the municipality does not believe in consultation but just a cosmetic act to appear to be fulfilling the process when it is not.  Ward 7 residents said council does not timely provide information to help them participate in the budget meetings.

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