By Matabeleland North Correspondent
VICTORIA FALLS: Daggers have been drawn between the local city council and residents who have vowed to block the 2022 budget
consultation meetings before the municipality avails an approved supplementary budget for this year.
The local council’s 2021 budget has been a source of contention between residents and the local authority as ratepayers complain the city authorities were inconsiderate.
The 2021 proposed budget was more than $1,3 billion but has since been reviewed downwards after the residents successfully petitioned Local Government Minister July Moyo to force for new consultations.
The residents complained their views on the budget had not been captured.
Minister Moyo ordered the council to start fresh consultations which were done mid-year resulting in a supplementary budget that is still with the Local Government Ministry and is yet to be approved.
Residents argue the 2022 budget can only be crafted using the 2021 supplementary budget as its basis.
The resort city residents also accuse councillors and management of sleeping on duty and not following up on the 2021 supplementary budget.
They also argue the 2021 supplementary budget will have no effect as only three months are left before the year ends.
Residents want the local council to implement the supplementary budget in retrospect from last January when the local authority imposed hefty rates and bills which sparked outrage.
”We have been tricked for a long time, so, now we are not going to allow this to happen again. You made us believe that a supplementary budget had been done and now you want us to go forward before dealing with the issue of the 2021 budget. Let’s stop these meetings until the supplementary budget
comes,” said a resident.
Other residents also concurred saying they wanted the revised 2021 budget to be implemented before they can craft a new financial plan.
Victoria Falls has 11 wards, and all have vowed not to allow the budget meetings to go ahead.
“Bills are accumulating because no one is paying since there is no budget. Let’s wait until the supplementary budget comes then we can start crafting a new budget,” said another resident.
Speaking at one of the meetings at Mosi High School, the city’s finance director Nevile Ndlovu said: “There are repercussions that come with waiting for the supplementary without starting the process of doing a new one.
“Remember there are timelines set for the budget-making process and if we fail to budget in time that means the council will not be able to do services.”
Local authorities are expected to have submitted their 2022 budgets for approval by the Local Government Ministry by November and have them approved by December 31.
According to the Local Government Ministry in 2020, two-thirds of local authorities failed to meet their budget deadlines.