Councillors push for ward retention fund constitution amendment

Bulawayo councillors have called on the local authority to expedite the distribution of the ward retention funds amid revelations that some wards have gone for two years without receiving their allocation. 

Council allows each ward to retain 3 percent of its monthly rates revenue collection to fund developmental programmes in their localities.

In a full council meeting, Wednesday, ward 24 councillor Arnold Batirai said at the moment ward retention funds take too long to be disbursed in different wards.

“I propose we amend the constitution on ward retention funds because the current situation we are taking long to make use of those funds because of the channels responsible. I prose that we amend the constitution so that at least residents enjoy their three percent, because if you see the current economic situation, this money is losing value day by day, where exactly are we going, we are heading to the situation whereby no supplier would take this bond note (sic),” said Cllr Batirai.

In agreement, ward 15 Councillor Febbie Msipa added that her ward has spent two years without receiving their allocation.

“Residents will be expecting to know how their ward retention fund was used. It is better to use the funds on something in the ward no matter how small the funds are, so that people will know that the funds did something rather than just keeping quiet without doing anything. In my ward, ward 15, its now two years and I haven’t noticed any development done with the ward retention funds,” said Councillor Msipa. 

“I am proposing and appealing that my three percent ward retention fund be diverted to the fixing of tower lights because residents are now being attacked.”

The Deputy Mayor Mlandu Ncube noted that there is a need to amend the ward retention funds constitution.

Deputy Mayor Mlandu Ncube

“As the finance committee we are open to that and we are of that idea if it can make it more faster to benefit the wards but I want to make this thing very clear, the finance business is to pay, not to do projects, if the relevant departments do not submit a project we can’t pay and if they submit and we fail to pay we communicate to them and in turn we expect them to communicate to the relevant wards,” he said.

Cllr Batirai also noted that there was lack of clarity on the disbursement of devolution funds received from the government.  

“I think we are lacking somewhere, somehow; I still remember in this house we agreed on devolution funds that the funds will be used towards water because we have a serious challenge with water, but I haven’t heard anything which was done by devolution funds concerning water,” he said.

“I don’t think there is anyone who has the right to tell us how to use it, it’s the house which must decide how to use the funds, so those who are in authority of distributing those funds I think they must know where they end because they cant give us money and tell us what to do, we have 29 wards which have serious challenges and we propose that the funds must be used towards those challenges.”

Ward 27 councillor, Alderman Siboniso Khumalo ssaid devolution funds were channeled to various projects in the city. 

“I think devolution money really worked on important projects, my concern is that if only Government can be merciful and give us more money to deal with the old sewerage problems and also fix the roads infrastructure,” he said.

While unveiling his 2021 national budget in Parliament last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, announced that ZWL$19 billion will be allocated to devolution projects across the country’s provinces next year.

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