GWERU – A budget review meeting by Gweru City Council collapsed on Wednesday after stakeholders walked out after demanding that they be given hard copies of the figures that were discussed.
Council officials used a projector to make presentations, but residents at the meeting demanded copies. The council used 70% of its budget in the first six months owing to inflation.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association Director Conillia Selipiwe advised stakeholders to leave the meeting and accused the local authority of taking residents for granted.
He also said the council was not transparent on budget issues.
“As the residents’ associations, we stand ready to represent residents. We are aware that the local authority has financial constraints. However, such an important meeting should be held properly and transparently, and stakeholders are given time to peruse the contents.
“This is an important budget issue which needs us as residents to give input for progress’ sake.
“We are tired of being ambushed year in and year out, and this result in our budget failing each year, ” he said.
Finance Committee chairperson, Martin Chivhoko, said the issue will be rectified and the meeting rescheduled.
“Today’s budget review meeting failed to proceed as stakeholders boycotted demanding hard copies of information that was supposed to be presented.
“We were supposed to hold a budget review meeting to discuss the current performance of our budget, but unfortunately, stakeholders led by residents associations walked out.
“The bottom line is that our budget was eroded by the current economic downturn.
“Our annual budget for the year 2022 was pegged at ZWL$46 million and was approved in November last year when the bank rate was at 105, but now due to inflation we have exhausted 70 per cent of the budget,” he said.
In his opening remarks before the meeting was boycotted, Gweru City Council deputy Mayor Councillor Cleopas Shiri said the local authority was hit hard by a mass exodus of council employees due to poor salaries.