Residents urged to fight for devolution of power

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BULAWAYO councillors yesterday urged residents to fight for devolution of power to enable the local authority to take over management of its resources from central government and improve service delivery.

BY TALENT GUMPO

Speaking at a full council meeting on Thursday, ward 22 councillor Rodney Jele said: “We have, over the years, been unable for fix our roads because our budget does not permit us to. We have had to use money from other services to improve our roads. Let us encourage our residents to fight for devolution of power because then they can hold us accountable for poor services because right now there is only so much we can do.”

He said the local authority relied on rentals and rates, which are dwindling as economic woes mount.

Councillors said the paltry allocations received from the Zimbabwe National Road Administration Authority (Zinara) were stifling their plans to spruce up the city roads.

“If Bulawayo City Council was responsible for registering all vehicles that use Bulawayo roads and administer its road fund, we would not be talking about the issue of roads. As council, we are trying our best to deliver, but the crisis comes with central government where funds collected from Bulawayo motorists are used to refurbish roads in other areas,” ward 1 councillor Mlandu Ncube said.

“When [former President] Robert Mugabe came to Bulawayo, government used Zinara funds to further its programmes. How many motor vehicles are registered in Chikomba or Zvimba that can bring money to maintain the roads there? The money is coming from motorists using Bulawayo, Harare and other city roads and the money is taken to develop a road in a rural area. It is very clear that the government is benefiting at the expense of council.”

The councillors’ complaints come amid revelations that Harare City Council has set aside $4 million for refurbishment of roads leading to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputies, Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi’s homes while most city roads are in a sorry state.

Ncube accused central government of not remitting funds to provincial governments.

“In the Constitution, it is stated that the central government must put aside a certain percentage of the budget that will assist the provincial governments. Now, we have a crisis that issues that are affecting people in Bulawayo are meant to be decided by someone in Harare,” he said.

“At the moment, councils do not have power, the power is borrowed from the minister. Before we make decisions, we have to consult and sometimes beg the minister for approval.”