By Kelvin Kasiwulaya
Gweru residents have rejected to take part in the city’s budget review meeting citing the absence of printed old budget copies and their disability to familiarize themselves with the budget contents on short notice.
The City of Gweru was scheduled to have a budget review consultation today but residents and ratepayers demanded to be given printed copies of the 2021 budget report so that everyone can familiarize themselves with the former before they make their submission.
Council officials wanted to make a PowerPoint presentation of the budget review, which residents rejected.
The meeting came to an abrupt end after Councilor Martin Chivhoko (Chairman of the Council finance committee) conceded to the residents’ suggestion that the meeting is postponed to another date until copies of the old budget report are shared among residents.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) Executive Director Cornilia Selipiwe noted that the city fathers had developed a destructive culture of not allowing stakeholders to scrutinize and critique council documents before making decisions.
“We have since requested that the council give us their documents for scrutiny before we make our submissions and input on the budget but this has fallen on deaf ears. We need printed copies of the budget report and proposals so that we make informed decisions when we add our input to the budget,” said Selipiwe.
Citing the notion of transparency another resident, Mr Takudzwa Samhembere noted that, it was very sound and logical for the local authority to give residents time to study the budget documents prior to the meeting, as this will go a long way in allowing residents and ratepayers to make productive submissions.
GRRA Ward 17 Chairman Mr Ignitio Makaza lamented how the council tackled its business, especially on issues concerning residents noting that it was better to postpone the meeting as residents don’t even have a clue about what the council officials will be saying.
This incident comes when the City’s 2021 budget fell prey to the piling economic pressures on the country’s ZWL currency.