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Bulawayo Residents Await 2014 Budget Presentation

Bulawayo residents queue for water in a city that faces perennial water woes.
Bulawayo residents, many of whom are reeling under the effects of growing unemployment and water shortages, say the local authority should consult widely before presenting the 2014 budget to ensure that it caters for their needs.

The city council is working on a draft 2014 budget which is expected to be presented this Friday.

Bulawayo’s already constrained finances have prompted the council to stop refuse collection in all low density suburbs and some high density suburbs. Residents fear that if next year’s budget is even lower, services may be cut back even further.

Debt cancellation appears to be a major cause of declining revenues. City council public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu says income is down from over $6 million per month to $3.8 million since the council implemented a national government directive ordering urban and rural councils to cancel residents' debts since 2009.

The total of debts the council cancelled approached $93 million.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents' Association programmes officer Zibusiso Ndlovu urged the council to put its house in order and balance its needs with those of residents.

Ndlovu added that he thinks “pro-poor policies” are needed, especially for households headed by children, widows and the elderly.

Another resident, Mildred Mathe, says the Bulawayo City Council needs to prioritise housing, refuse collection and provision of water in its 2014 budget.

Mathe believes that the suspension of refuse collection, at a time when the city is under water shedding, is likely to expose residents to disease.

Apart from service delivery expenses, the city council owes the state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, the National Social Security Authority and the Department of Taxes more than $78 million.

Cash shortages have also left the council struggling to pay its workers over the past two months.

It is unclear how the council will respond to residents’ requests, but residents are eager to see the 2014 budget when it is presented in only two days. Council officials declined to comment for this report.
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