Residents grill Gweru council over devolution funds use

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Miriam Chikukwa

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA/OBERT SIAMILANDU
GWERU City Council officials were on Tuesday grilled by residents over their failure to address key service delivery issues and lack of transparency in tender processes, including the use of devolution funds.

This was during a visit to the city by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government led by Miriam Chikukwa (Zanu PF) to investigate issues raised in a petition by the Gweru Residents Forum (GRF) on lack of accountability in the use of devolution funds.

GRF board secretary Vincent Chakunda told the committee that council should consult residents on how devolution funds should be used on priority areas in service delivery.

“As residents, we are a strategic partner to council and we need to know how much council gets for devolution, and how the money is to be used so that we are part of the process,” he said.

Chakunda bemoaned lack of a devolution framework to enable council to follow clearly laid down procedures in the implementation of the funds.

The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Gweru chapter said women were the worst affected by the lack of consultation on the use of devolution funds as they had specific service delivery issues they needed addressed.

National Association of Non-Governmental Organisation Gweru chapter co-ordinator, Titus Mangoma said: “Residents’ participation in devolution funds is minimal. It is not even clear to residents if the funds come already defined from the central government or that it’s the residents who should define the use of funds through budget consultations.”

The Midlands capital received $302 million for this year’s devolution funds, with part of the money already used to acquire water, road and refuse equipment, among others.

Meanwhile, villagers in Maboleni, Lower Gweru, are disgruntled because of a road contractor who hired them to rehabilitate the Gweru-Lower Gweru road, but failed to pay them for the job.

The contractor, RCM Civils, was fired by the Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry for failing to complete the job.

The villagers said they were owed about US$6 000 by the contractor.

Maboleni councillor Proud Tshuma told Southern Eye that locals wanted the issue to be resolved urgently.

“Villagers feel they were used by the contractor after offering their services for the roadworks,” he said.

“Now the contractor just left without paying them and this is sad because villagers dedicated their time and labour to the project. We are appealing for quick intervention from relevant authorities so that the issue comes to rest.”

Midlands provincial roads engineer Dennis Mapfurira said his office was working to ensure that the affected villagers were compensated.

“My office is working tirelessly to make sure villagers who were contracted get what they are owed. This is a process and I hope it gets resolved soon,” he said.

Mapfurira was speaking during a visit to Lower Gweru by a Transport and Infrastructural Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee last week.

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