The Harare City Council will soon start Budget Consultations in a bid to solicit residents’ inputs and budget priorities for the year 2022.
Last Friday the Local Authority convened a Virtual Stakeholders Consultative Meeting with the Budget Advisory Committee and Civic Society Organizations in an attempt to map out engagement strategies for the 2022 budget consultations in view of the COVID 19 pandemic.
According to the City of Harare, the budget consultations are expected to commence this August and end in September.
During the Consultative Meeting, stakeholders and civic society urged the local authority to embrace technology and use mobile applications, online platforms, and written submissions from key stakeholders to engage citizens since COVID 19 had disrupted physical engagements.
However, stakeholders lamented that the City’s processes were merely cosmetic and called on the local authority to avail information on the 2021 budget performance so that residents will input into the 2022 budget being informed.
“We have been having challenges in accessing the information on-budget performance and the draft budget which makes it difficult to participate from an informed position ”, said Mr. Malaya from Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy.
In terms of the Urban Councils Act 29:15 (288) (2) (a) when the estimates (budget) have been approved by the council and approved by the mayor copies of the estimates (budget) are made available for public inspection.
Furthermore, Section 219 (2) of the Urban Councils Act 29:15 specify that before any tariff or charges come into operation “a statement setting out the proposed tariff” shall be advertised in two issues of newspapers and posted at Council offices for a period of not less than 30 days.
The law also provides room for residents to object to the proposed tariffs for reconsideration by the Council in terms of Section 219 (3) (a) and (b) of the Urban Councils Act 29:15.
The budget consultations are a critical process of priority and tariff setting, an issue the local authority has been wrestling with citizens for many years.
Urban local authority budgets are governed by the Urban Councils Act 29:15, Public Finance Management Act, the Constitution of Zimbabwe, and Circulars from the Ministry of Local Government.
CHRA calls for inclusive budget consultation processes and the City to consider citizen input seriously during the budget consultations.