The Gweru City council yesterday adopted a proposed $31,5 million budget in a move that has riled residents’ associations who have
threatened to take unspecified action against the local authority.
The proposed budget was adopted during a full council meeting which was chaired by Gweru mayor, Councillor Hamutendi Kombayi.
The council has since resolved to forward the budget to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr Ignatius Chombo in two weeks’ time to give residents and other stakeholders time to make their own input.
Clr Kombayi pointed out that despite the budget having been adopted by councillors, there could still be amendments that could be effected.
“Adoption of the budget by councillors doesn’t mean that the budget has already been passed. We’re giving ratepayers two weeks to inspect the budget and make their own contributions.
“If there’s overwhelming evidence that people have reservations over the budget then it will be altered to include the views of the people,"¯ he said.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRAA) chairperson, Cornilia Selipiwe, described the adoption of the budget as ‘criminal’¯.
Said Selipiwe: “What the councillors have done is criminal because there is no justification for adopting the budget after residents expressed their reservations when the budget consultative meeting was held.
“Honestly, how can you increase the budget when the economy is going through a period of deflation and when ratepayers are failing to pay the current rates which council is charging?”¯
The adopted budget is a 35 percent increase from last year’s which stood at $24,5 million.
Among some of the proposed increases was that of fixed water charges which increased from $3 to $5.
Usage of a single cubic metre of water will cost $0,80 up from $0,60 per cubic metre.
Defending the budget, the city’s finance director, Edgar Mwedzi, said the increase was necessitated by the need to reduce the budget deficit from $1,024,969 for this year to an estimated $350,000 next year, a situation which he said is in line with international best practices