Local authorities funding: Govt flouting constitution

CENTRAL government has been failing to remit the constitutionally stipulated 5% of revenue to local and provincial authorities since 2013, while also failing to stipulate amounts allocated to each authority, compromising service delivery in the process, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

By Bridget Mananavire

The constitution mandates government to allocate at least 5% of total national revenue to provincial and local tiers of government.

According to a report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts chaired by former Finance minister Tendai Biti, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has been flouting the constitutional requirement since the adoption of the new constitution in 2013.

“The minister must fully comply in the 2020 Estimates of Expenditure by explicitly indicating the amounts allocated to local authorities,” the Public Accounts Committee’s report on compliance issues for the Finance ministry read.
“The committee concluded that the ministry had partially complied with the requirements of Section 301(3) of the constitution in that US$310 million had been committed to provincial and local tiers of government in the 2019 budget. It was noted that since the new constitution came into effect, the ministry had not been complying with the provisions of Section 301(3).

“The amount allocated constitutes 5% of the expected revenue of US$6 199,3 billion. To the extent that the budget estimates do not show the specific allocations to local authorities, the committee did not come across evidence to suggest that the Ministry had fully complied.”

This comes as the ruling Zanu PF has been accused of sabotaging opposition-run councils in a bid to see the councils fail.

During oral evidence deliberations between officials from the ministry, Finance permanent secretary George Guvamatanga told the legislators that they had catered for the provinces in the 2019 budget.

“The accounting officer stated that the Ministry had allocated resources for provinces in the 2019 budget and therefore, complied with the provision. He further stated that the allocations to local authorities were provided for in the Public Sector Investment Programmes,” the committee’s report read.

The committee also noted serious non-compliance with Section 22(2) of the Public Debt Management Act where the Finance ministry was not consulting with the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister July Moyo for purposes of prescribing an annual borrowing limit for each local authority.

“The committee found out that borrowing powers are academic and that borrowings by local authorities can hardly sustain their expenditures. The committee proposes that central government should be the principal sponsor and driver of capital expenditure by local authorities.

“Local authorities should be allowed to engage other financiers on the principle of private-public partnerships Build, Operate and Transfer,” the report read.

It recommended that Finance minister Mthuli Ncube consult his Local Government counterpart Moyo and prescribe annual borrowing limits for each local authority applicable in the 2020 financial year by December 31, 2019.

Top