Manyenyeni, councillors clash
Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni has clashed with councillors over his decision to reject the city’s $328,2 million 2018 budget over hidden costs and expenditure contained in the financial plan.
The councillors believe that Cllr Manyenyeni was “captured” by the residents’ associations.
Ward 28 councillor Wellington Chikombo said Cllr Manyenyeni, by virtue of being head of a council that had passed a resolution to approve the budget, should simply agree with it.
“He is signing as he is expected to after council makes a resolution,” he said. “He is expected to sign it as a grown-up man and stop behaving like a child. If you hear that he is not signing, he is making himself the city, instead of working for the city.
“I am worried that the Mayor is being abused by people called residents’ associations. He consulted his ward and I also consulted mine, (so) who are these people masquerading as leaders of the people?”
Ward 13 councillor Peter Moyo said councillors were baffled by Cllr Manyenyeni’s reluctance to sign the budget.
“What pains us as councillors is that the Mayor got sentiments from residents’ associations that the budget was not done properly,” he said. “When we conducted pre-budget consultations ward by ward, numerous residents associations were present.
“We contributed and they also contributed. So, we do not know where the Mayor is getting all this. It baffles us that we conducted the process together up to the signing stage; we are now surprised that he is now reluctant to sign the budget because of these associations’ sentiments.”
Ward 3 councillor Innocent Maseko and Ward 14 councillor Alderman Samuel Chinyowa believe that the budget was procedurally drafted after consultations with the key constituencies.
Cllr Manyenyeni said this week he could not sign a budget that had been rejected by residents’ associations.
“The issue that is coming out of residents is that the budget formulation process has not been to their satisfaction in terms of notice, involvement and participation,” he said. “The submissions have come through, the budget has been formulated, but the reason I am refusing to sign is that there are certain fundamental things that are not addressed.
“Until those things are addressed, the budget will not perform, council will not perform. Council service delivery is suffering because our wage bill is high. I have talked about our sports budget, particularly football, I have talked about the Employment Council which gobbles $1,2 million every year which is equivalent to 12 garbage trucks.”
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has written to Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere rejecting Harare’s 2018 budget, saying it does not meet the standards that allow for effective participation of residents.
In the letter, CHRA chief executive Mr Mfundo Mlilo argued that many voices of the citizens were not captured in the budget process.
He said the council’s staff costs were chewing $9,5 million per month from the average monthly collections of $13 million.