Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent
Harare City Council is set to start its annual budget consultations with the residents as it seeks for their inputs and budget priorities for the year 2022.
Last Friday the local authority convened a virtual stakeholders consultative meeting with the Budget Advisory Committee and civic society organizations in an attempt to map out engagement strategies for the 2022 budget consultations in view of Covid-19 pandemic.
Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the budget consultations will begin by the end of this month and end in September.
“We are starting the meeting at the end of this month and we will hold them virtually. Notices for specific sectors will be issued so that we meet target groups virtually,” he said.
Stakeholders and civic society had urged the local authority to embrace technology during the consultative meeting and use mobile applications, online platforms and written submissions from key stakeholders to engage citizens since Covid-19 had disrupted physical engagements.
However, stakeholders lamented that council’s processes were merely cosmetic and called on the local authority to avail information on the 2021 budget performance so that residents will input into the 2022 budget from an informed position.
“We have been having challenges in accessing information on budget performance and the draft budget which makes it difficult to participate from an informed position,” said Mr Wisborn Malaya from Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy.
In terms of the Urban Councils Act 29:15 (288) (2) (a) when the estimates (budget) has been approved by council and approved by the mayor, copies of the estimates (budget) are made available for public inspection.
Furthermore, Section 219 (2) of the Urban Councils Act 29:15 specify that before any tariff or charges come into operation “a statement setting out the proposed tariff” shall be advertised in two issues of newspapers and posted at Council offices for a period of not less than 30 days.
The law also provides room for residents to object to the proposed tariffs for reconsideration by Council in terms of Section 219 (3) (a) and (b) of the Urban Councils Act 29:15.
Urban councils’ budgets are governed by the Urban Councils Act 29:15, Public Finance Management Act, the Constitution of Zimbabwe and circulars from the Ministry of Local Government.