Residents rap budget consultation process

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BULAWAYO  Bulawayo residents have torn into the Bulawayo City Council’s budget consultation process whose outcome they said may not address their needs.

The city council has been conducting a series of budget meetings in the city since the beginning of last week to engage residents on how they want the city affairs run.

Meetings, which have roped in different stakeholders in both affluent and working class suburbs, run until the end of this month.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) is calling for the councillors to transform the way the city budget is formulated arguing that the current method is failing to adequately address residents’ needs.

“Our contention is that the process is largely tokenistic, with the final determinations being arrived at by the local authority’s technocrats while the views of residents are largely discarded,” BPRA programmes and advocacy manager Emmanuel Ndlovu said.

“In addition, only a handful of residents are consulted, with meetings inadequately publicised and the process designed in a top-down manner without much room for residents to shape the outcome of the consultations.”

Ndlovu said while residents are given room to air their views, there were no fool proof mechanisms for them to know how the final budget is arrived at.

“BPRA also feels that the once-off budget consultation meetings fail to truly capture the views of residents on the budget.”

Budgets should be crafted in line with the realities faced by the residents of Bulawayo and the process should be redesigned to focus on ward issues as needs differ across the 29 wards, he said.

“In tandem with this, they should be evolved to include a component that ensures that small grants are devolved to communities (wards or suburbs) to spend on essential things that they need,” Ndlovu said.

The residents association called for a more rigorous consultation process with a radical shift towards engagement methods of including residents to ensure that their true needs are captured in the budget formulation process.

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