Kwekwe council in a fix over supplementary budget

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By Midlands Correspondent

KWEKWE City Council is in a fix following a recent decision by residents to reject the beleaguered local authority’s supplementary budget.

The council is proposing a 300% tariff hike, an increase residents have dismissed as outrageous.

Tempers last week flared at a supplementary budget meeting where residents were accusing management of insensitivity, corporate misgovernance and underhand dealings, among some accusations.

Acting Town Clerk Lucia Mkandla insisted that the meeting went on well despite the volatile environment which ensured.

Sources privy to the development however told this publication that the budget was going to be effected to “save the city”.

A fortnight ago, the business community endorsed the tariff charge sheet.

“We are faced with an unenviable situation when it comes to service delivery,” a council official who preferred not to be named on professional reasons said.

“We are in a critical state as a council. We are failing to service our machines for service delivery. Our water treatment chemicals have run out after our budget was eroded by inflation.

“We are left with no choice but to effect the supplementary budget so as to save the city. Even government is aware of the predicament that we are in. That’s why they advised us to have a supplementary budget.”

Mayor Angeline Kasipo said council was going to consider the residents’ input.

“We cannot say the residents rejected the budget. Ofcourse they expressed their reservations and we are going to consider their input which was the purpose of the meeting in the first place,” she said.

Kasipo however could not shed light on the way forward as she referred questions to Mkandla.

Mkandla could not readily comment while saying she was in marathon meetings.

Former Councillor Alderman Aaron Gwalazimba acknowledged that the tariff increases will be an extra burden to hardpressed residents.

He however said parties should find common ground for the sake of the city.

“While I concur with the residents that the tariffs are too much, I however recommend that a certain percentage and compromise was supposed to be arrived at than to outrightly reject the supplementary budget. This will negatively affect the council as they need to deliver services,” he said.

Mayor Kasipo has said that council is faced with a critical situation after exhausting its government approved $26, 9 million budget.

She blamed inflation for the financial mess the city finds itself in.

In a bid to cushion itself from the inflationary environment, Kwekwe City said it will increase tariffs by 300%.

Residents have however hit back and accused the city fathers of mismanagement.

“The issue is not about tariff increases. It is about management of resources.

“People have been paying but there is lack of transparency and accountability. This council is anti-poor and non-inclusive.

“We are rejecting this supplementary budget as it doesn’t have any basis,” Kwekwe Residents and Rate Payers Association Secretary General Alex Homela said.

Kwekwe City Acting Finance Director, January Mukandapi said council was aiming to increase the budget to $41 million, up from $27 million.

The council is aiming to increase sewer tariffs from $5 to $10 in high density areas, while low density areas who were paying $5, 50 will be forking out $10.

Water tariffs will be pegged at $2,70, up from $0,80 and the same amount for low density areas.

“We cannot have the same tariffs charge sheet as those in the low density area. Council must look into that issue. Government is facing economic challenges just like this council. So why transfer the burden to residents,” one resident, Judith Tobaiwa said.