By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
THE cash-strapped Chinhoyi Municipality has tabled a lofty $2, 7 billion budget for the 2022 financial year.
Among the capital expenditure, the municipality proposes to purchase a mayoral car valued at $13, 5 million, among top-of-the-range vehicles for all heads of departments.
This follows budget consultations that ended last week at which residents and ratepayers raised concern over erratic water supply, impassable roads, and general poor service delivery.
The budget estimates have elicited mixed reactions from residents’ representative organisations.
Combined Chinhoyi Residents Association (CCRA) interim chairman, Tendai Musonza said while top-of-the-range vehicles for senior managers were prescribed in their contracts as skills retention perks, council must prioritise service delivery.
Musonza said: “Chinhoyi residents have never said council must not buy cars for management, they have always been at cross-purpose with the priority setting of the local authority. We don’t expect them to buy vehicles when there are no water chemicals, when engines at the water station are down, and workers are not being paid.
“That has always been the position of residents, and it remains so. Their selfish interests must not be given the first preference ahead of the residents’ interests and service delivery. The priorities have always been questioned by residents.”
Chairperson of Chinhoyi Residents Trust (CRT), Sibongile Mgijima lamented the hike in operators licence fees, particularly for colleges going up to $84 382.
She also said the new tariffs put health services out of the reach of most residents.
In the 2022 estimates, rates clearance penalty was increased from $8 000 to $20 020, while generally tariffs were steep for the mostly unemployed residents.
Mgijima said: “Vending stalls rates are too high. Council is promoting illegal vending.”
She raised a red flag over council administration’s duplicity on charging for use of Chinhoyi Stadium, which is still undergoing renovations.
“It’s a joke to say the stadium will be free for political rallies while the open space, which does not have even toilets is charged. We demand revenue from the stadium from all who use it,” said Mgijima
“Zanu PF is traditionally allowed use of the stadium while opposition MDC Alliance is allocated the open space where there are no ablution facilities.
It was naive for the MDC Alliance dominated council to have let the budget pass with such political implications ahead of the politicking preceding 2023 harmonised elections,” she said.
Chinhoyi Municipality has, in terms of Section 219 and 285 subsection (5) of the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15), proposed to fix charges and tariffs to finance its 2022 budget, and has now given a 30-day window for stakeholders to raise objections.
Thereafter, the tentative budget will be submitted to Local Government minister, July Moyo for approval.
The current budget for 2021, estimated at $716, 7 million, saw council managing to collect revenue amounting to $232 million against a target of $359 million as at August 31, thereby representing a 65 percent collection efficiency.