Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter

THE Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) will purchase data for more than 1 450 residents in the city to ensure that the take part in the online budget consultative meetings being organised by the Bulawayo City Council.

Council last week announced that due to the Covid-19 necessitated national lockdown they will conduct consultations for its 2021 budget through WhatsApp.

The local authority is required by law to hold consultation meetings when coming up with a budget, with residents having the power to even reject the budget proposal if they feel council had not adequately consulted them.

BPRA coordinator, Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said while they would have preferred physical meetings, they also had to consider the impact of the pandemic hence they decision to identify 50 residents from each of the 29 wards who they will provide with data bundles for them to be able participate in the meetings.

“We have identified 50 technosavy residents per ward who have smart phones, of which we will provide them data bundles for them to be able to participate in the meetings as representatives to those that do not have access to these smart phones.

“What we have also done is request the draft budget from council, which we will get our experts to analyse then they will engage the residents’ representatives, train them on this process and also help analyse the performance of the 2020 budget so as to empower the identified 1 450 resident, as they engage council during these consultative meetings,” said Mr Ndlovu.

He said they were also working on presenting a shadow budget to the local authority taking from the deliberations they will have with residents.

“Our goal is that we reach a consensus as residents so that the shadow budget we send to the local authority will be all encompassing and representative of the entire residents’ body,” said Mr Ndlovu.

Council on last Friday rolled out the programme where residents in the city’s 29 wards are required to join their respective ward’s WhatsApp group where the budget proposals will be presented to them.

“The City of Bulawayo will be holding WhatsApp Budget Consultation Meetings due to the Covid-19 protocols which restrict meetings of more than 50 people. You are invited to join your Ward WhatsApp group so that you participate in the formulation of the 2021 Budget,” reads a message sent to residents.