The Chronicle

Mejury Magaya, Midlands Reporter

GWERU City Council has revised its proposed 2020 budget downwards from $2,2 billion to $1,8 billion following pressure from residents who felt the proposed tariff increases were very high.

The reduction translates to a 20 percent cut in projected revenue and expenditure, council has said. 

Addressing 2020 consultative meeting at the town house yesterday, acting director of finance, Mr Owen Masimba, said the decision to cut the budget was adopted at a special council meeting on Tuesday. He warned the cut in budget would likely suffocate service delivery in light of the upward inflationary trend.

The city had initially tabled a $3,5 billion budget but revised it to $2,2 billion, which has now been reduced to $1,8 billion. The city’s budget for this year is $46 million.

The proposed budget will see burial fees being pegged around $1 000 from $80, service station fees to about $30 000 from $1 000.

“The residents of Gweru should understand going into 2020 that their best dreams, which they expected from us in terms of service delivery was at $3,5 billion but now that they have spoken and we have been forced to revise the budget downwards,” said Mr Masimba. 

He said the residents should expect the same kind of services which is not 100 percent but 50 percent.

According to council feedback 15 out of 18 wards boycotted consultation meetings.

“In Ward 1 no one turned up for the meeting and it had to be postponed. The consultation was finally held on November 28 when only eight residents turned up. Residents adopted the budget although the Ward councillor felt he needed to further consult with his Ward Development Committee.

“In Ward 2 only 22 members participated and the meeting adopted the proposed budget and its tariff schedule. In Ward 5, 12 residents participated and adopted the proposed budget,” he said.

In Ward 6, Mr Masimba said the meeting went on well but the budget was not adopted as the residents demanded further consultation. 

“In Ward 7 the meeting was attended by 39 participants and the residents did not adopt the proposed 2020 budget but suggested that the budget be reduced by 40 percent across the board. In Ward 8 the meeting was well attended with 53 participants and adopted the budget with some amendments,” he said.

Mr Masimba said in Ward 9, 48 residents turned up and did not adopt the budget and also did not proffer an alternative besides hinting that the tariffs were very high.

“In Ward 11,44 residents and the council officials attended and totally rejected the budget without giving any alternative suggestions whereas in Ward 12 the meeting was attended by 24 participants. They adopted the expenditure budget of $2,3 billion income together with the proposed tariffs,” he said.

“In Woodlands the meeting was attended by 27 residents, the deputy mayor and two council officials and they adopted the proposed 2020 budget while in Ward 15, six residents attended the meeting and adopted the budget on condition tariffs were reduced by 40 percent.” 

In Ward 16 only 21 attended the meeting and agreed to adopt the budget. In Ward 17 a total of 37 residents attended the meeting and adopted the budget.