Bulawayo residents want the government to prioritize the revival of industries in the country’s second city in the 2016 national budget.
The residents also want Harare to establish provincial metropolitan councils as provided for under the country’s constitution.
The residents, who attended a national budget consultation meeting at the City Hall in Bulawayo on Wednesday, said they were worried that industries have continued to shut down in the country resulting in more people being thrown onto the streets with little or nothing to sustain them.
They also want Harare to avail funds in the 2016 budget for the establishment of provincial metropolitan councils as provided for in the country’s constitution. The government has been reluctant to create the independent councils preferring to maintain the governors who are handpicked and not elected.
In his submission during the consultation, director Samukele Hadebe of the Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said the establishment of the councils would put into effect the policy of devolution which he said would help enhance citizens’ participation in national processes as well as local development.
Hadebe said, “The people of Zimbabwe in their wisdom decided to reform local governance and established provincial metropolitan councils as well as devolved local authorities as a way of enhancing citizens’ participation; as a way of ensuring fair distribution of natural resources, so we are saying the budget should be seen as a process and it must be in sync with other policies so that we create an environment that is conducive for development.”
PARASTATALS, GOVT DEPARTS
He also suggested that all findings by the auditor general about abuse or misuse of money by government departments or parastatals must always be taken into account so that those found in the wrong can be sanctioned.
“The budget process has a drafting phase, the legislative phase, the implementation as well as the evaluation and we are saying the auditor general is part of that process. So, when the report highlights areas of corrupt practices, either in parastatals or government departments, then the next budget does not seem to respond to these findings, it defeats the whole purpose.
“People must say this institution is not going to get money because it has not accounted for the previous spending.”
Some residents at the meeting also called on government to put into effect its declaration of Bulawayo as a special economic zone saying this would help bring the much-needed revival of industries in the country’s second biggest city.
Acting Town Clerk Sikhangele Zhou of the Bulawayo City Council echoed similar sentiments in her contribution, adding that the decentralization of government activities by departments like the State Procurement Board would also go a long well in helping local corporates.
“We know that the idea of Bulawayo being declared a special economic zone for certain sectors has been talked about but now we want action in the next budget. And we spoke about decentralization in terms of making processes responsive to regional needs because centralization in Harare disadvantages companies in Bulawayo; even in terms of our state procurement regulations companies in Bulawayo are not getting tenders mainly because the state procurement processes are done in Harare and it’s more expensive for them to put in a bid than it is for a Harare company.”
Zhou also revealed that the Bulawayo City Council has received nearly half of the $900,000 that the Zimbabwe National Road Authority is supposed to give to the council this year.
She said government must ensure that the authority remits in full all the money that it is supposed to pay to local authorities.
Other residents at the meeting called for transparency over the money that the Zimbabwe Republic Police collects, particularly in traffic fines, and still others suggested that as ordinary Zimbabweans are facing hardships, the government should subsidize primary school education so parents won’t have to pay hefty fees.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on finance and economic development is going around the country soliciting people’s input towards the nation’s budget for 2016.