BULAWAYO residents on Wednesday came out guns blazing accusing the local authority of imposing hefty annual budgets while doing little in terms of improving service delivery in the city.
The matter came up as the local authority tabled its proposed US$264 million budget for next year.
A resident, who only identified himself as Msimanga from Willsgroove Park, said the proposed budget was too high and way out of reach for most poor households.
“The budget for 2023 to 2024 is almost the same, so I ask myself, are we not shooting ourselves in the foot, because 2023 there is absolutely nothing to write home about in terms of service delivery. We are taking the same budget and moving it to the next year, does that make any sense? I think we are just expecting different results using the same tactics,” Msimanga said.
“If there was a selection of services that need proper or urgent attention, I am not refusing your efforts, but I am saying for us to make proper progress we could select services and pay immediate attention to them. Maybe we could get a smooth movement because we cannot accomplish everything."
Another resident Joshua Moyo from ward 12 suggested that council should propose fines for vendors relieving themselves in alleyways in the central business district as part of efforts to promote cleanliness in the city.
Acting town clerk Sikhangele Zhou said council was seized with improving service delivery for the benefit of the ratepayers.
“We will tell our staff to improve in response. For burst water and sewer pipes, our policy is to respond immediately to control the water. We are trying to purchase equipment that is urgently needed for refuse collection in public services and also attend to roads leading to major roads,” she said.
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Mayor David Coltart assured the residents that their concerns would be taken on board.
“In our council meeting last week, every single councillor of the 29 wards stood up and spoke about thestate of the roads in their own wards. The state of the roads in this city is deplorable, unacceptable and we will do everything on our part to address that in equitable ways,” Coltart said.
“This city used to have its own water and for that, we built most of our dams. In the past, we did not have to pay any other authority in the government for the benefit of growing our own water. We have to work together in this instance to work within the constraints of this national context."
In 2022, the council announced a budget of US$158 million for the year 2023 amid concerns by residents during the Wednesday meeting that the council has failed to deliver most of their expectations through that budget.
Chairperson of the finance and development committee Tawanda Ruzive in 2022 unveiled council's US$157,99 million revenue budget at the same time proposing to set aside US$106 million for key infrastructural development projects.
BCC is currently indexing all its bills in US dollar although residents are allowed to pay the local currency equivalent at the prevailing official exchange rate.