Budget meetings scheduled for September

HARARE - As Harare City Council draws towards its budget consultation meetings for formulation of the 2019 budget, residents are of the opinion that the notification time given by the City Fathers is too short.

In interviews conducted during a residents’ meeting this week, residents argued that people were being informed of ward meetings on short notice making it difficult to attend.

The budget meetings are scheduled to begin in September after councillors are sworn in and the new mayor is appointed.

“Last year, we were only told of the Highfield budget consultation meeting on the day it was supposed to be held. Very few people attended because people would have already made plans for their day. Others who were at work could not give excuses to attend the meetings,” Regina Kutongwa said.

Hatfield resident Alice Ziwai said the consultation meetings do not yield much because the final budget is not what people want.

Ziwai said of all the consultation meetings she has attended, much of residents’ contributions centre around increasing the budget on water and health but that does not happen.

“These meetings are useless because council does not listen to us. What is discussed and what is formulated are completely different. All they want is to collect revenue to pay their salaries without thinking about providing clean water to residents and ensuring there is medicine at the clinics,” she said.

According to a We Pay You Deliver (WPYD) 2018 survey report close to 49 percent of residents do not know how to access the budget consultation venue while 62 percent do not even know where and when the meetings are being held.

“35 percent of residents think that the consultation meetings are just a formality as 26 percent of residents feel that councils do not listen to their views. 35 percent feel that the key drivers to them attending budget consultation meetings are to influence budget priorities and 19,7 percent argue that their attendance of such meetings is to raise other issues,” the WPYD survey report said.

The report recommended that for budget consultation meetings to be meaningful and well attended, schedules and venues should be disseminated to residents associations one month in advance to prepare residents.

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