No consultations, no budget approvals – Gov tells councils
MASVINGO – Consulting people and stakeholders during the 2024 annual budget-making processes by councils is so critical that local authorities will be required to produce evidence, formerPermanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Zvinechimwe Churu has said.
He said consultations are not only critical for people’s ownership of the budgets but they are a constitutional requirement and this is also reinforced by several other statutes.
Churu instructed the local authorities through an October 2, 2023 circular.
The circular comes in the wake of many local authorities drafting budgets without doing outreach programs to stakeholders. Some councils are not even notifying ratepayers of meetings to draft budgets.
“Citizen engagement is critical in the planning and budgeting processes and local authorities are required to produce support documents from consultations. Budget consultations should be collaborative and stakeholder engagement must be made.
“Tariffs must be realistically set after consultations and in line with proper revenue casting. Engagement is, therefore, a requirement which engenders mutual respect, shared principles and common expectations. It also provides a platform for feedback on council service provision,” said Churu.
He said all budget tariffs should be advertised by October 10, 2023.
“All budget advertisements for tariffs should have been flighted by October 10, 2023,” reads the Permanent Secretary’s circular.
He also emphasized the need to ensure that women and people living with disabilities are included in the budgets and all local authorities were required to submit such budgets.
Residents and stakeholders who spoke to The Mirror said budget consultations for most local authorities were just a formality as no meetings are being held with the people. They said most wards were not being visited and were not even aware of the budget consultations.
Efforts to get a comment from Churu were futile.
“This circular is issued in compliance with section 305 (i) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and other statutes regarding the approval of estimates of revenues and expenditure.
“The 2024 Budget Call Paper under the theme Consolidating Economic Transformation is aimed at building consensus on the budget priorities as a prelude to the 2024 budget process”, reads the circular.
Bikita RDC CEO Peter Chibhi said they were still conducting consultations but they flighted the the proposed budget because the circular from Churu ordered them to do so by October 10, 2023.