THE Bulawayo United Residents Association (Bura) has written to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo protesting the decision by the Bulawayo city council to adopt the revised 2004 budget wi
thout consulting residents in terms of the Urban Councils Act.
Bura, through its 58 affiliated resident associations, at a weekend meeting decided unanimously that they should seek the support of the Minister of Local Government in their dispute with the council.
“The council did not come back to us with the revised budget as was expected but instead it opted to send the budget straight to the ministry and we are going to resist that. We are glad that we have been given the mandate to do that by the majority of residents’ associations in Bulawayo,” said Bura chairman Winos Dube.
This is the second time in the space of two months that Bulawayo residents have objected to council moves to effect massive rate increases in the 2004 budget. In December the council was forced to revise the budget after Bura objected to the increases.
The residents rejected the initial budget drafted by council that would have seen rates go up by between 700% and 850% in a quarterly basis.
The revised 2004 budget, sent by council to the Ministry of Local Government on December 23 last year, would have increased rates by between 300% and 600%.
Dube told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that 38 residents’ associations from the 58-member group unanimously agreed that Chombo should be approached as a way of forcing council to reduce the budget to a reasonable level.
“Things are very difficult for residents and we cannot allow the council to unilaterally raise rates and tariffs on residents as most of them are wallowing in poverty while some are not employed at all,” said Dube.
He said if Chombo failed to address the residents’ concerns then the locals would have to find an alternative strategy that would solve their problems.
“We are not saying Chombo is our last resort but we will have to find another solution if he does not solve our problems. We are not saying we have closed dialogue with the council,” Dube said.
The revised budget, that was adopted by a full council meeting on December 19 last year, would see the costs of burials go up from $20 000 in January to $40 000 in July while rentals for business premises would go up by 400% in the first quarter and a further 250% in the second quarter.
Dube said Bura would want to see council pass a budget that would get the approval of all stakeholders including the council itself.
“The council should come clean and conduct its business according to the Urban Councils Act, because what we need is a budget that is agreeable to all interested parties including council itself,” Dube said.