BPRA requests access to council budget, financial records

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has approached the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) requesting full access to the unabridged 2021 council budget and financial documents for scrutiny.

The local authority last month held budget consultation meetings as according to the law which requires them to hold consultation meetings when coming up with a budget, with residents having the power to reject the proposed budget if they feel the council had not adequately consulted them.

This year, the meetings were held virtually due to the Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

BCC has proposed a ZWL$16 billion, which will see tariffs increasing by 421 percent.

In a letter addressed to the Town Clerk Christopher Dube copied to BCC Financial services director Kimpton Ndimande, Bulawayo Mayor Solomon Mguni, BCC public relations manager Nesisa Mpofu and Chamber Secretary Sikhangele Zhou,  BPRA Coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said even though they acknowledge the local authority’s efforts towards engaging citizens,  the current abridged version of the draft budget in the hands of the public does not provide useful information required for meaningful analysis.

“Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association would like to acknowledge the Bulawayo City Council for its effort towards engaging citizens in the governance of the City through making sure that the 2021 budget consultations take place on WhatsApp under the context of imposed Covid-19 restrictions which curtailed public gatherings,” said Ndlovu.

“As BPRA we made efforts to mobilize residents to participate in these consultations and provided data to some of them. We further acknowledge BCC’s efforts to avail the abridged version of the budget as well as the 2021 budget proposed tariffs”.

“However, BPRA is further requesting for an unabridged version of the 2021 draft budget for the purposes of analysing it before the 4th of November which is the deadline for submission of objections,” he said.

BPRA also requested the breakdown of how the 3 percent ward retention funds were used in 2019 and how much that has been disbursed in the current year 2020.

 “We, therefore, request for the following documents, a full 2021 BCC draft budget which also indicates the total salary bill of the council, current financial statement January to September 2020, Annual financial statement for the 2019 for comparative basis, disclosure of funds received as grants and in-aid finances and used and how they were used and areas that benefited from the proceeds of these funds,” he said.

“We look forward to receiving these documents as soon as possible noticing that the deadline for the closing of objections to the 2021 draft BCC budget is imminent. It is the conviction of BPRA that if these documents are not made available on time, the whole budgeting process might run the risk of being reduced to a mere theatre and a window dressing activity with no real impact on the allocation of money.”

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