Kwekwe municipality has dribbled past residents and proceeded to adopt and advertise the same 2011 budget which was rejected during a budget consultative meeting late last year.
Council took the position to adopt the rejected draft budget without effecting any changes at a special council meeting closed to the media on December 23.
A few hours after the meeting, the first notice of the budget was advertised in a Kwekwe community newspaper, with residents and service users being invited to lodge any official objections with the town clerk Emmanuel Musara by January 24 this month.
This is the first time in 15 years the local authority has gone on to adopt a budget rejected by residents without making amendments or holding further consultative meetings.
Finance committee chairperson councillor Queenly Chitopo, who promised residents her committee would conduct a second round of consultations before adopting the budget, confirmed a special council meeting was convened to adopt the budget without further consultation with stakeholders.
“After a long special council meeting we adopted the proposed 2011 budget without any changes and without any further consultations because further delays would have plunged the city into crisis,” said Chitopo. “Council made the decision in the best interest of the city and its residents.”
Mayor Shadreck Tobaiwa could not be reached for comment, but he is on record blaming Zanu PF for trying to block the proposed draft budget immediately after residents rejected it.
“Zanu PF has won this first round but we will have our day and we will outwit them in this game. This is politics at play,” said Tobaiwa immediately after the budget consultative meeting last year.
Sources said Tobaiwa, had to invite former Redcliff executive mayor and MDC-T local government consultant, Rogers Sony Chisi, to coerce fellow councillors into adopting the budget.
Chisi is reported to have threatened councillors with expulsion from MDC-T if they did not support the mayor in his attempt to push a rejected budget through.
Tempers reportedly flared and accusations were traded during the meeting with councillor Aaron Gwalazimba, a strong critic of Tobaiwa and Musara, walking out.
Sources who attended the meeting said Gwalazimba told Chisi and other MDC-T leaders they had no powers to discuss council business at party offices and said all debate should be conducted in chambers.
Gwalazimba confirmed he had indeed walked out of the meeting held a day before the special council meeting. He said he had been elected to serve people not council management.
“We have lost our mandate somewhere along the line,” Gwalazimba said. “Council should not adopt budgets rejected by the people. We are in office to serve the same people we want to impose a budget on because someone in management thinks it’s the best idea. I will not be part of that.”
During the all-stakeholders’ budget consultative meeting, residents’ representatives from all 14 wards in Kwekwe, the business community and other interest groups rejected the draft budget alleging the local authority had cooked figures and that management could be involved in corruption.
They wanted an audit report compiled by Udcorp last year to be made public first before the budget could be approved.
If residents don’t reject the advertised budget the local authority will raise a total of $14,5 million from rates and tariffs in 2011, with around $7,2 million going towards salaries and allowances.
The wages and salaries bill accounts for about 50% of total revenue in contravention of the government stipulated ratio of 30-70% ratio between salaries and wages.