Byo residents embrace online budget consultation meetings

Bulawayo residents have hailed an initiative taken by the local authority to conduct the 2021 budget consultation meetings via the WhatsApp platform due to restrictions on public gatherings.

Representatives from the residents` associations noted that most residents are on WhatsApp hence the process is likely to be less cumbersome.  

The city council recently issued a statement advising residents to join their Ward WhatsApp groups to be able to participate in the meetings. 

The local authority is mandated to hold these consultative meetings with residents in order for them to have a say in the proposed budgets. 

However, due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown, gatherings of more than 50 people were banned as means to curb the spread of the virus. 

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) Communications Officer Kelebone Khabo, in an interview with CITE described the development as a good move at a time when options are limited. 

“It is a good move that the city council has adopted the use of a digital platform to interact with residents. The fact that this is a public platform also promotes transparency. There have been incidents where some residents have complained that their contributions are not adopted into the approved budgets so at least on this platform everybody gets to contribute and the local authority can keep record,” Khabo said. 

“WhatsApp is also effective because the majority of residents are familiar with the application. It is less complicated than other platforms such as Zoom. We also note that we have elderly residents among us who may not be able to participate via the platform, so we implore the council to supplement for such with town hall meetings in line with the stipulated regulations.”

Bulawayo Residents Association (BURA) Chairperson Winos Dube shared the same sentiments, citing there are limited options to make use of due to the lockdown. 

“We are faced with a pandemic, but we need to progress as a city. This initiative by the local authority is quite welcome. We also consider that each WhatsApp group can accommodate about 257 participants hence the council needs to have ways of incorporating those who would have failed to join the groups,” Dube said. 

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