The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 which outlawed the use of foreign currency in local transactions will cripple its developmental projects.
These remarks were made by the mayor of Bulawayo, Councillor Solomon Mguni, Wednesday while delivering the state of the city address.
The mayor said since the introduction of the ward retention fund in 2015, $5,152,866 has been collected and only $710.957 was used in 22 wards.
“In the year 2015, the City of Bulawayo introduced the ward retention fund which awards the retention of 3% of the payments to projects identified by residents in the wards,” said Cllr Mguni.
“There have been a number of challenges faced in the implementation of ward retention project which includes the inability to access foreign currency, delays in processing project requests, procurement guideline changes and projects not supported by Council budgets.”
Acting Town Clerk Sikhangele Zhou said the local authority needs foreign currency as most of the products used are not produced locally.
“While the use of foreign currency has been banned in the country, there are still certain components of the ward retention fund projects that are outstanding and we may invariably need foreign currency,” Zhou said.
“For example, the tar we use is imported, many wards want to have their roads fixed but tar is not available locally. However, this is just a new development hence we are still watching the space to see the positive impact of the statutory instrument.”
Council Finance Committee chairperson and Ward 4 Councillor Silas Chigora said the most the challenges are faced when procuring materials for use by council.
“People pay their rates in local currency yet most of the contractors quote us in foreign currency. However, with the introduction of SI 142 of 2019, we hope local contractors will be able to quote us in the local currency,” said Chigora.
Chigora said they hope banks would be able to avail foreign currency to contractors so they may be able to finance their projects.