Nyore Madzianike Manicaland Bureau
Buhera and Mutasa rural district councils (RDCs) were the worst performing local authorities in terms of service delivery, particularly on road rehabilitation as they failed to efficiently use funds allocated to them under the Emergency Road Maintenance Programme disbursed by the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara).
The two districts were rapped for underutilising the funds, a move which is said to have contributed to their underdevelopment. Speaking at a meeting held with heads of local authorities and other stakeholders in Mutare last week, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo expressed concern over the underutilisation of funds by the two local authorities.
Dr Gumbo urged Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Senator Monica Mutsvangwa to crack her whip on local authorities that diverted funds.
“Your RDCs have done very well in general,” he said. “They have done pretty well, Minister Mutsvangwa, but there are others, which you need to crack your whip at so that they can perform.
“I can tell, and let them know and see to it that chief executives and town clerks are working. The worst ones are Buhera and Mutasa. We gave them money and if they had made use of that money, they could have covered a lot of ground.” Dr Gumbo said local authorities that failed to utilise money allocated to them would never receive the balance.
He applauded Chimanimani, Chipinge, Nyanga, Makoni, Mutare RDCs, Mutare City Council and Rusape Municipality for disbursing funds for road rehabilitation and maintenance. Buhera RDC was allocated $423 200, but only used $153 600, while Mutasa only spent $148 000 out of the $335 000 which was allocated to it under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme.
“Minister (Sen Mutsvangwa), I want to thank you for giving us this opportunity to meet these local authorities who are the ones responsible for road construction,” he said.
“When we come here, we want to see that as RDCs, as urban councils, did they properly use the money that we allocated to them. We want to see whether they used the money on the jobs that they said they would be using the money on. We want to see whether they did the proper things; what are their changes and how we can help them looking into this year.
“This is why we are here, so that we can also learn from them and hear from them on what they think we must do to make their work and life easier. This is precisely why we are here.”
Dr Gumbo said his ministry was fully aware that some local authorities diverted funds meant for projects to pay for salaries to their employees. He said his ministry wanted to guard against diverting funds meant for developmental projects.
“We are fully aware that when we give some money to RDCs or urban councils, they do not do what they tell us,” said Dr Gumbo. Some will start settling their debts, some start paying salaries to their employees and some will just sign certificates, saying the job was done when in actual fact nothing would have been done. We know corruption is there. That is what we are trying to guard against.”
A total of $3 405 465 was disbursed to rural district councils in 2017 and they all managed to use $3 121 858 in the period. On the other hand, urban councils received $2 586 090 and used a total of $2 498 850 in road rehabilitation. Dr Gumbo said $5,5 billion was needed to rehabilitate roads countrywide.