The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has petitioned the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) demanding a breakdown of the three percent Ward Retention Fund expenditure for the year 2016 and 2017.
In a letter addressed to the local authority, the organisation said it was concerned that there were wards that had not yet received the fund for a period spanning close to three years.
BPRA acting coordinator, Emmanuel Ndlovu told CITE that they wrote to the
town clerk Christopher Dube requesting the council to explain why ward some of the wards had not received their allocation of the funds.
“After having analysed the full council minutes of 6 February 2019 we noted that there were wards that have not yet accessed and utilized the 3 percent retention funds,” said Ndlovu.
“We are mostly concerned with ward 1,13,22 and 27 retention fund expenditure for the year 2016 and 2017 because it is unclear what happened to the funds.”
“BRPA would also like to understand the reasons and challenges faced by those wards that did not spend anything under their allocation.”
Ndlovu said that the report attached to the council minutes did not detail how the funds were spent.
“The failure by the local authority to disburse retention funds, weigh down on residents who end up facing quality and adequate service delivery challenges such as water and sanitation”.
“In ward 13, for example, residents are grappling with issues of home ownership and it would have been prudent for council to use the funds to finalise the housing and homeownership issue”.
According to the city council, the ward retention fund is a development scheme, which entails setting aside three percent of all funds received from payment of services billed to residents.
Ndlovu added that they are concerned that the fund has lost its purchasing power due to the country’s runaway inflation.
“Every month BCC gains a dollar but it loses its buying power with it being kept in council coffers for no logical explanation,” argued Ndlovu.
Meanwhile, the local authority will hold a financial performance review meeting on Wednesday, where this issue is likely to be discussed.