Over 300 Kwekwe residents have signed a petition to reject the 2011 local authority budget, for the second time in less than a month after an all-stakeholder consultative budget meeting first rejected the same budget.
Kwekwe Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Development Association secretary-general Alex Homela on Wednesday evening handed over a petition signed by 324 residents and captains of industry rejecting the budget which was adopted by councillors at a special council meeting on December 23 last year.
The residents said they were dissatisfied with the manner the local authority was handling finances and also accused the local authority of disregarding residents’ input during the consultative meeting.
“Stakeholders invited on December 16 2010 rejected the advertised budget and asked for adjournment of the meeting to a further date which you agreed but you mysteriously adopted the budget without holding another consultative meeting . . . Figures reflected on the capital budget remain dubious and it would be folly to ask us to fund such a budget,” reads part of the petition.
Council has indicated that it intends to buy laptops worth $2 000 each, calculators at $200 each and a vehicle for the town clerk, Emmanuel Musara, worth $90 000.
Residents have queried these figures arguing that expensive laptops cost no more than $1 000 at leading computer shops.
“What type of car does council want to buy for Musara which will cost $90 000, and honestly where do they want to buy laptops for that much and to use them for what? All we want is an explanation before we can okay that budget,” said Homela
Residents are also demanding that council makes public an external audit report which was compiled by the Urban Development Corporation (Udcorp) of Harare early last year, which is yet to be released to councillors. The report remains tightly locked in the town clerk’s office and he has refused to discuss it.
“Council continues to keep secret the external audit report by Udcorp. We want it made public so that we know how our funds are being handled.
“We believe that the rates and tariffs we are paying are too high in view of the above,” the letter reads.
Finance Committee chairperson Councillor Queenly Chitopo confirmed council adopted a budget that was rejected by residents but said when the special council meeting was held, she was not present nor was she informed about the meeting.
“As chairlady of the finance committee, I was supposed to chair the meeting. In my absence, my deputy Amanda Chanza would have chaired but neither of us were at the meeting and we therefore are left wondering who convened the meeting which then recommended that the budget be adopted,” said Chitopo.
Homela said the residents’ association was prepared to approach the High Court, if council disregarded the call to revise the budget within the stipulated time.
“We are ready with papers which we will not hesitate to file in the High Court if council does not heed our calls,” said Homela.