Mbare Budget Advocacy meeting

Date: 10 December 2019

Participants: Reginald Muzimu and Portia Chando, both Community Coordinators) 

  1. Introduction: A budget advocacy meeting was held in Mbare on 10 December 2019 with the aim of educating residents on the formulation of a municipal budget and how the citizens can make their contributions.  It was attended by 25 residents comprising of 24 females. Key issues raised include but not limited to City of Harare’s failure to adequately notify residents about budget consultative meetings, bias when conducting budget consultative meetings in selecting the contributors, failure to provide a ward based budget, failure to provide revenue and expenditure statements for previous years by the city council. Residents are worried that their refuse is not being collected, yet they are being charged for refuse collection and also flooding of the roads during the rainy season due to poor drainage system. The residents resolved that they need the city council to attach a note to invite them to a budget consultative meeting on the bill statement or give sufficient time between invitation and the date of the meeting, to be largely involved in the budget formulation processes and also to sit down and go through the recently published 2020 City council budget.
  2. Agenda:
Time Activity Responsibility
1000hrs-1005hrs Opening Prayer Volunteer
1005hrs-1010hrs Introductions Self
1010hrs-1015hrs Welcome Remarks Chairperson
1015hrs-1020hrs HRT Mandate Portia Chando
1020hrs-1050hrs What is budgeting, who makes the city budget? Reginald
1050hrs-1120hrs How city budget is made? Reginald
1120hrs-1150hrs How to object to the budget? Portia Chando
1150hrs-1220hrs Plenary All
1220hrs-1225hrs Closing Remarks Chairperson
1225hrs-1230hrs Closing Prayer Volunteer
  • Opening prayer: Volunteer.
  • Welcome remarks: Ndangariro Gadzikwa Mbare Ward 11 Residents’ Committee Chairman, welcomed the residents and urged them to fully engage with the issues of budget meeting to be more prepared by the time the council undertakes its ward budget consultative meetings.
  • Introductions: Self introductions were done by the residents.
  • HRT Mandate: Portia explained the HRT as a membership driven organisation which is non- partisan. She identified and explained the major service providers, in particular the City of Harare and its departments, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Councillors, Government Departments, Residents and other stakeholders.  The HRT is there to educate residents and to facilitate dialogue between the service providers and the residents through engagement meetings. She added that for one to be a paid up member of HRT s/he has to pay $2-00 which will cover him for one year.
  • What is City Budgeting:  Few residents described it as a process of allocating funds by the local authority to various expenses that need to be incurred by the Harare City Council. The first thing that struck residents mind is money when they hear the word budget. The community coordinator defined City Budgeting as an on-going process whereby funds are allocated into different categories or departments and priorities for service provision basing on the previous revenue and expenditure patterns. For the city budget to be successful there is need to combine efforts from all stakeholders including residents, City Council Heads of Departments and Councillors. But the residents should play a more significant role since they are the funders of the bulk of the budget through payment of rates.   
    • Budget Formulation: To formulate the budget, the residents were told that the City Departments come up with their budget priorities and bids. Councillors invite residents to ward budget consultative meetings where residents are expected to give their priorities for the following year about rates they pay to the city council mainly focusing on things that affect the residents on a daily basis. A consolidated budget is then submitted to the council’s Finance and Development Committee for debate which includes issues residents raised during consultative meetings and the issues the various council departments raised. The chairperson of the Finance and Development Committee will then table the proposed budget to the Full Council so that all the councillors can debate before they adopt it and submit it to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for noting and approval.  After adopting it, the proposed budget will then be ready for inspection at the Town House, at all district and council offices. The budget is then advertised in The Herald for two consecutive weeks. The advert was placed in the Herald of 28 November 2019. The residents and members of the public inspect and scrutinise to see if their concerns raised during Budget consultative meetings were included in the final proposed budget. In the year 2019 the residents have up to 30 December 2019 to inspect this proposed budget, and raise objections if they have any.
    • Objecting to the City Budget: The Programmes Officer told residents it is provided for in the Urban Councils’ Act (Chapter 29.15) that residents may raise objections to the proposed budget if they are unhappy with any of the budget provisions. The proposed budget must receive at least 30 objection letters on each of the services that they offer to the ratepayers, for the Finance and Development Committee to revise the budget without the need to re-advertise it. Letters must be addressed to the Town Clerk stating exactly what one is objecting to in the budget, providing the reasons and if necessary provide alternatives. Letters will be submitted to the Town House within 30 days from the day of first advertisement and residents were encouraged to have three copies of their objection letter, one for their own files, another one to the Council and the third one to the HRT for the record. The letters have to be stamped at Town House for record purposes. If the residents do not send objection letters or if the objection letters are less than 30 for each proposed item within the 30-day window period, the proposed budget will be considered to suit the priorities of the residents and it is then submitted by the Council to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for final approval.
  •  Ward Budget Consultative Meetings in Mbare- Residents complained that the information about ward consultative meetings is not reaching most people in time. They requested the Harare City Council to attach notice of ward consultative meetings on all media platforms so that the information will reach out to the majority of ratepayers. Previously, i.e. year 2019 the ward councillor would call for these meetings in the morning yet the meeting is being held in the afternoon which resulted in very low attendances at ward budget consultative meetings. Furthermore, the council does not provide residents with print outs of either proposed budget or revenue and expenditure statement but they only read from their printouts. Therefore, residents need council to provide copies of the proposed budget, the income and expenditure reports, which cost very little to photocopy and distribute to ratepayers. This will also enable residents to have a better understanding of budget processes. Residents also said they are not given chance to speak. Residents also complained that when the council officials are presenting their budget they tell us of project activities done outside Mbare yet in Mbare nothing was achieved in the four wards, 3, 4, 11 and 12, therefore residents need a ward based budget. Lastly residents urged the city council officials from various departments who attend consultative meetings to have pens and notebooks to take down residents’ needs. If an issue is raised concerning a particular department residents expect an answer from a person from that department not that the one chairing the meeting will answer all the questions.
  • Service Delivery:
    • Refuse collection: Residents complained that now it has been long time without refuse collection around the suburb.
    • Roads:  There are roads with poor drainage mainly, Ayema Street which floods every time it rains. If the council can pay immediate attention to the drainage system in Mbare residents will appreciate it.
  • Closing Remarks: The Programmes Officer thanked residents for attending the meeting and urged the community to be largely involved in the city budget formulation processes. Residents were encouraged to look at the proposed budget which proposes that that resident will be paying an average of $225-00 per month and also raise objection letters without fear whenever they think it is unfair from residents’ perspective.

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