Councillors fume over ward retention funds

Bulawayo councillors are fuming at the late disbursement of funds for the ward retention fund projects which has seen most of the projects stalling.

The councillors expressed their disgruntlement at a full council meeting, Wednesday, stating that their wards were being shortchanged as far as service delivery is concerned. 

The three percent ward retention fund is a scheme that allows ratepayers to retain three percent of the total revenue they pay to the council and use the funds to carry out a project of their choice in their wards. 

Councillors have been complaining about the late disbursement of funds by the council, citing that by the time the money is released, it would have been eroded by inflation.

The council recently created a sub-committee to probe the challenges faced by the local authority in releasing the funds.

Ward 8 Cllr Edwin Ndlovu said his ward had requested money to carry out a project, but it had not come, and no feedback had been given thus far. 

“My worry, Your Worship, is on the three percent ward retention fund. When I look at my ward, we have about 8 million which have not been used. We applied for this money because there are several projects, we wanted to embark on. Again, at some stage, this council formed a sub-committee to investigate why the ward retention fund is not being distributed to the beneficiaries and up to today we have not received any feedback. May we please get clarity on why the funds are not coming,” Cllr Ndlovu said. 

Cllr Silas Chigora, who is a member of the sub-committee, said councillors should not generalise, if they have queries, they should approach the sub-committee and have the queries looked into. 

“It is very difficult to deal with such general comments like what Cllr Ndlovu has just done. If you have a query you come to the committee and state your case and if there is a need to investigate, we investigate together. At the moment I can’t respond to his query as to where is project being held up. There is a need to follow up with the relevant offices as a collective and find out what the holdup is. The use of the committee is to check everything from where you submitted, to quotations to implementation,” Cllr Chigora said.  

However, acting mayor Ward 1 Cllr Mlandu Ncube argued that Cllr Chigora was misrepresenting the mandate of the sub-committee, citing that it was not doing as instructed. 

“Cllr Chigora maybe you need to be removed from that committee because the mandate of the committee was clearly stated that councillors must submit what they initially submitted to the Chamber Secretary then the committee must collect what has been submitted and get the comments from relevant offices and give a feedback to this house not to have individual chasing the progress of the projects,” he said. 

The councillors noted that they need to review the work that had been done by the sub-committee thus far and decide whether it should continue or be disbanded.

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