Augustine Mukaro/Ndamu Sandu
HARARE acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara, in collaboration with the James Kurasha committee running the affairs of the city, plans to bulldoze a $1,5 trillion budget through counc
il without consulting ratepayers.
Official sources at Town House said Makwavarara and the committee, which is not a formal city management authority, were expected to railroad the budget through a depleted council next month in breach of council procedures.
Neither Makwavarara nor Kurasha has a mandate to formulate or pass a budget because there is no substantive full council. The remaining councillors do not constitute a quorum which requires 16 members.
A number of opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) councillors resigned in September to protest government interference at Town House.
The committee, which exists alongside a handful of Zanu PF councillors, cannot pass the budget because it has not been officially installed as the authority in charge of Harare.
Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo claims the committee, which he handpicked, is there to supervise the remaining councillors.
The problem is that if the committee – which has no status – is imposed as the official authority running council it means Makwavarara and the few Zanu PF councillors will lose their jobs.
Makwavarara and seven of the remaining eight councillors were elected on an MDC ticket but defected to Zanu PF. Makwavarara, a Mabvuku ward councillor, replaced popularly elected MDC mayor Elias Mudzuri who was fired by Chombo for alleged insubordination.
The city has been run down by successive Zanu PF mayors since Independence in 1980. The last Zanu PF mayor, Solomon Tawengwa, was fired by government on charges of corruption and incompetence in 1999.
Harare is currently reeling from serious water shortages, dilapidated water reticulation and sewage infrastructure, sporadic garbage collection, potholed roads, poor street lighting, crumbling health facilities, and a housing crisis.
The budget, which is likely to be presented in December, was drafted without consultation.
Council spokesman Leslie Gwindi said consultation would take place after the draft was drawn up, something which stakeholders say is effectively an imposition.
“We are putting together the figures and once we have completed the proposals we will present them for consultation,” Gwindi said.
However, under normal circumstances the budget consultation process should be held at least six months before presentation so that the final proposals incorporate stakeholders’ contributions.
Sources said council ties with stakeholders were severed when Makwavarara, with Chombo’s help, wrestled power from Mudzuri.
All local authorities are supposed to submit budget proposals to the ministry by October 30.
Zimbabwe’s second largest city Bulawayo last week unveiled a $1,1 trillion budget that will see tariffs shooting up by 250% in July.
Harare Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya told the Zimbabwe Independent the city had missed the deadline of the budget because of the transformation it was going through.
“We are running late with the budget presentation,” Chideya said. “We should be in a position to hold stakeholder and consultative meetings by the end of November.”
Combined Harare Residents Association acting chairman Israel Mabhoo said council budget was delayed by the chaos at Town House.
“We don’t know who is who at Town House,” Mabhoo said. “There is no substantive council or a declared commission to run the city. The absence of either of the two means that no one has a mandate to come up with a budget.”