Residents demand transparency in ward retention funds

THE Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) has taken the city council to task over Ward Retention Funds (WRFs), which it alleges are not being utilised in the wake of poor service delivery.

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) set up the WRF in 2017, with about $1,6 million set to be disbursed annually to all the city’s 29 wards for development purposes.

The WRF is in the mould of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), where legislators are given monies by Parliament for various development projects in their constituencies.

Latest council minutes show that there are wards that have not accessed and utilised their allocation of the WRF, a situation BPRA said could not be tolerated.

“BPRA would like to understand the reasons and challenges faced by those wards (that) did not spend anything under their allocation, namely wards 5, 7, 11, 12, 21, 23, 24, 27 and 29,” a letter to Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube dated February 13 signed by BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu, read.

“We are deeply concerned by the fact that the retention funds have lost their purchasing power as a result of the country’s runaway inflation. Every month, BCC gains a dollar, but it loses its buying power with it being kept in council coffers for no logical explanation.”

Dube told Southern Eye that the local authority would issue a detailed breakdown of how the WRF has been used.

“We are preparing a response. Actually, we will give a detailed response at a meeting we have called for, where we have invited various stakeholders, including the BPRA,” he said in a telephone interview.

“This meeting is also to use the opportunity to engage residents on our plans to implement austerity measures in the face of the economic challenges.”

BCC will today host a financial performance review meeting at the Small City Hall, according to an invite signed by Dube.

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