Zimbabwe residents investigate City Council budget

In a first for Zimbabwe, residents of Mutare, the fourth largest city in the country, have scrutinized the city council’s budget against their service delivery.

Working with MISA-Zimbabwe, a partner organisation in the Fojo-managed Swedish Media Development Programme, the Mutare Residents and Rate-Payers Trust (UMRRT) have conducted an investigative study of the Mutare City Council 2016 budget against their service delivery. On 17 February 2017, they launched the result in the form of a social audit report assessing successes and shortfalls in the city council’s management of its budget.

“The social audit was meant to cover transparency and accountability on issues to do with the effective and efficient use of resources within the city of Mutare,” said Edson Dube, the Programmes Manager for UMRRT, who conducted the study over a period of three months.

Hot issues that emerged for residents were: the Education Levy introduced by the council at the beginning of 2016 of which residents were not clear what it was meant to be used for; the deteriorating roads in Mutare and which authority is responsible for their maintenance between Mutare City Council and the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (where neither are doing any maintenance work); and water supply in Dangamvura, which has been without water provision for years yet the funds for this have been released by the African Development Bank.

The audit took place against a background of 15 years of failed service delivery in Zimbabwe’s cities, as well as growing corruption in local councils.

MISA-Zimbabwe provided UMRRT with technical support as well as funding of the report, as a first in a process they hope to replicate in other cities around the country.

One of the key recommendations from the audit was the need for residents to unite and engage authorities for a common cause. Another key recommendation was that access to information is a basic service that local authorities must provide to residents.

The event was well attended by residents who are active in UMRRT, most of whom took time off their vending stalls to come.

Jean Mujati
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