Gwambe villagers fume over devolution funds

Villagers in Ward 2 Gwambe in Bulilima District have questioned the disbursement of devolution funds without the involvement of the community.

This was after the Bulilima Rural District Council (RDC) bought 200 bags of cement for the construction of Gwambe clinic.

The villagers told CITE that they were not consulted on which project to prioritise.  

“The Councillor just came and told us that we have received the devolution funds and the Rural District Council (RDC) decided to buy 200 bags of cement for a community clinic under construction,” said one villager.

“Is it okay for him to do that without consulting or telling us how much money we received, the tender for the supply of cement, and to ask us what we needed the money for which projects?”

Contacted for a comment, Ward 2 Councillor Melusi Nkomo said he was only informed by the local authority that there were 200 bags of cement for Gwambe clinic.

“I never told people that we bought cement, I was called on Tuesday by the Rural Council and told that there are 200 bags of cement for Gwambe clinic from the money coming from the devolution funds, we didn’t even discuss it,” said Cllr Nkomo.

“There was never a meeting to inform us as councillors that the devolution funds have been disbursed.”

Councillor Nkomo said he is not even aware of how much the ward received.

“I wasn’t even aware that the devolution fund was disbursed, I am not even aware how the funds should work in all wards since they were introduced this year, we used to have Constituency Development Funds (CDF) not the devolution funds,” he said.

“We haven’t even received the cement since they have a problem with the truck, and I told them I will organize with the community and see if we can get transport to collect the cement.”

Bulilima East Constituency Member of Parliament (MP), Mangaliso Ndlovu said the reports are coming from people who want to raise dust over nothing.

“Council holds the budget consultation meetings, once the meetings are done, they follow the wishes of the people; you can’t go back to do the consultation once the money has been disbursed and the councillor is not responsible for identifying what needs to be bought, it’s the CEO, why are they not saying it’s the CEO,” said Ndlovu.

“These are the people who are trying to raise dust over nothing, if anything, what another development project is there besides the new clinic in Diba. Even if people were not consulted, the only project that I will finance in Gwambe is that clinic, unless it’s the people from Diba who would have wanted that.”

Ndlovu said his wish is for the constituency to finish the Gwambe clinic so that people could access primary health care before moving to other projects in other wards.

Bulilima Rural District Council (RDC) chief executive officer John Brown Ncube said they received ZWL$24million under the devolution funds and it will be used in the construction of 20 clinics in the district including Gwambe clinic.

“Like many other clinics it had 200 bags of cement bought to help the community to finish one wing as well as with nurses accommodation,” said Ncube

“As and when RDC gets funds it directs them to project as dictated by stage at which project is. You will appreciate once the project has been approved, the RDC works in partnership with the Councillor and project committee to channel funds according to need.”

Devolution fund is given to local authorities to fund essential infrastructure projects.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated ZWL$19.5 billion for the devolution programme in the 2021 budget to be distributed to provincial or metropolitan councils and local authorities.

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