By Perseverance Javangwe
Residents in Kwekwe have expressed dissatisfaction with the Kwekwe City Council’s running of daily business stating that the authorities have neglected people’s voices. This has resulted in residents shunning most of the recently scheduled 2021 Budget consultative meetings.
Kwekwe City Council postponed three of its 2021 budget consultation ward meetings after residents failed to turn up and contribute their input on the local authority’s 2021 budget. The consultative meetings in Ward 1 (Mbizo Youth Centre), Ward 4 (Dambudzo Primary School), Ward 11 (Chana Primary School) and Ward 6, 10, 13, 14 (Kwekwe Theatre) were all canceled because only three or less people showed up at each venue. This however, made it difficult for the council and its management to proceed with the program.
Speaking at Amaveni Hall where only 35 residents out of three wards attended the meeting, a resident who was in attendance asked the city council authorities why they even bother coming to the community when all they do is dictate for residents what should be done and does not listen to the suggestions the residents put forward.
“I wonder why you people even come here. If you come here and ask us about the budget, is there something that you ever included in that budget that was said by us. We attend these meetings all the time but you never include what we say. A few months ago you came here with a supplementary budget proposal and we told you our views, did you include them, and was that budget ever approved by the Ministry?,” asked a resident identified as Mathe.
This according to the resident literary explains why people are no longer interested in attending the budget meetings.
A women who spoke with this publication at Mbizo Youth Centre (ward 1) where the meeting was canceled after residents did not show up stated that it was a waste of time attending the consultative meetings.
“Pane chii ko apa pakangozara mota? Meeting yei iripo? Yecity, council hatiuyi nekuti chero tikauya tinongowana marates asiri atinenge tatenderana navo. Kupedza nguva kuuuya kuma meeting avo (what is taking place here, I see a lot of cars? The city council authorities no matter how many people attend these meetings they will never consider what we suggest, the rates will just shoot up anyways. So why waste our time attending such events?” she said as she continued moving away from the meeting place.
A councilor who can not be named told this reporter that people are fed up with the way council operates and have decided against attending any meetings related to the city council.
“To be honest, people are tired and fed up of the city council’s ways of doing things. Some have even told me that it is useless to attend a meeting where you give suggestions and not taken seriously. People are saying that no matter what they say here can never change the city council’s proposal. So it is a sad situation, this is why you see people are no longer attending the budget meetings,” said the councilor.
Perhaps this might be true to some extent after the Mayor, Angeline Kasipo herself told residents that the city council can not just accept proposed figures during consultative meetings without working on them properly.
“…saka isu kuti tingochinja figure hatigoni, ndopamwe paya pamunozofunga kuti hatisi kutora zvinobva kuvagari. Hatigoni kungoti imi mati counter proposal ye $0.42 takuisa yakati…isu hatigoni kungodzimikira kuti $0.38 ndoyemvura (we can not just start changing figures without properly calculating them and inquiring from the relevant authorities, this is why you think we don’t listen to you. We can not just randomly change figures and say on $0.42 let us change to $0.38 all of a sudden,” said Kasipo.
Her statement did not do well with the residents who started groaning, with some asking why they had organised consultative meetings when they knew that they can not change what was already in place.
This was after the Secretary General of the Kwekwe Residents and Ratepayers Association, Alex Homela had suggested different tariff rates to those proposed by city council.
“..on water you said $0.42 and we are saying consider $0.38 add the two and divide by two parties because we are having a bonding here, we are the ones who pay and we are proposing that where you said $2.20 consider $1.10, on education you said $1.00 consider $0.70, lights of $1.00 consider $0.70 also. We are here to bargain, you are not here to tell us what to do,” said Homela.
Alderman Aaron Gwalazimba, who was one of the three residents that attended the canceled meeting at Kwekwe Theatre weighed in by stating that timing was not suitable for business people. He also said that the previous supplementary budget might have driven business people away. This explains why there are non attendees at the meetings.
“The recent supplementary budget by the city council frustrated the business people. The business community felt they were badly treated the last time after giving their input during these consultation meetings. Secondly, the time that they conduct their meetings is not suitable for business people to attend. How can you start the meeting the same time that business people are resuming their work after lunch? The meeting should be done during lunch or after work,” he said.
With most of the consultative meetings canceled, it remain to be seen how the city council will map the way forward.