BULAWAYO councillors have blamed the shortage of human and financial resources for the city’s failure to attain its set targets to improve service delivery during the past five years.
BY TALENT GUMPO/NQOBANI NDLOVU
Mayor Martin Moyo said his council faced a number of challenges which hampered their efforts in attaining the city’s vision of being “a leader in local governance…”
“I applaud the efforts that have been made in the city in the past five years towards attaining its vision of being a leader in local governance excellence with a vibrant economy. While we are proud that certain achievements have been made, I would like to highlight that this has not been an easy term of office,” he said.
Moyo said the city has been plagued by a number of challenges including, human capital, salaries backlog, inability to maintain the city’s roads, policing of vendors dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure, among others.
“Bulawayo City Council has been faced with many challenges due to the current macroeconomic environment, where there are cash shortages and an underperforming economy. It is against this background that there has been a freeze in recruitment to curtail an increase in the wage bill at the same time trying to achieve the 30/70 ratio salaries,” he said.
Moyo said the period saw the local authority failing to pay its employees salaries on time with a two-month backlog.
Moyo said the city has failed to rehabilitate roads over the past five years due to lack of funding.
“Capital funding remained a challenge and funds received were inadequate to cover the city’s needs.
Moyo said council lost $49 million following the controversial directive, adding the local authority has failed to recover since then. He said BCC has failed to recover from the populist government’s decision ordering local authorities to write-off all outstanding debts ahead of the 2013 harmonised elections
“Some of the adverse policies which heavily impacted our operations was the government‘s directive through the ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for all local authorities to write–off debts accrued to residents in July 2013.
Local authorities were left reeling under huge debts following the populist directive — seen as a Zanu PF campaign tool by then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to write-off all outstanding water bills, unit tax, rentals, fees and levies dating back to 2009.
Moyo said the government’s decision has negatively affected council’s ability to collect future revenues and provide efficient services to residents and other stakeholders.
“Cash collection for the period under review has been an average of $5 million per month. The cash receipts have been insufficient to finance the budget each year as council needs an average of $7,5 million a month to provide services effectively,” he said.
Council is owed $176 million by residents as at February this year while the council owes its creditors $173 million as a result of residents’ failure to settle their utility bills.
He, however, said the city took pride in providing clean and safe drinking water throughout the period under review and over 5 000 residential stands
Moyo said the city saw developments in the education sector, an improvement in the emergency services among other positive developments.
The valedictory event saw 17 former and current councillors being elevated to Aldermen.