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Councillors demand clarity on ward retention fund

Bulawayo councillors have demanded transparency in the handling of funds meant for the Ward Retention Fund.

Council allows each ward to retain 3 percent of its monthly rates revenue collection to fund developmental programmes in their localities.

In a full council meeting held on Wednesday, Councillors accused the finance department of not being honest on how they disperse the funds.

“The Chairman of the Finance committee (Silas Chigora) is not being totally honest with us. Our projects, which we submitted to relevant departments, have not yet been financed. Finance people should give us figures,” demanded Ward 1 Councillor Mlandu Ncube.

He alleged the department diverted their funds to other projects, hence delaying payment for the retention fund.

“They also take our money and divert it to other projects and end up delaying approving our budgets. We once asked for a list of projects for the retention fund and the projects, only projects for Ward one were revealed. So, do you say all these 28 other wards did not submit,” Cllr Ncube queried.

Ward 3 Councillor Tinashe Kambarami concurred saying the finance department was taking a long time to approve their budgets.

“When you send your request to the finance department, they hardly respond. They take maybe three months. We are just shooting ourselves; let us use those resources timeously. If we have ward retention fund and the councillor comes to request, avail the funds on time.  Is it difficult to get three quotations in one day?” he asked.

He said if the department continued operating this way, the funds would lose value because of inflation.

“Inflation is skyrocketing. As long as we move slowly like what we are doing, we are heading nowhere. Soon this money will be in trillions like what we have in 2008 and we cannot afford that,” stressed Cllr Kambarami.

Ward 25 Councillor Mzama Dube also testified that since last year, they have been waiting for their budget to be approved by the finance department.

In response, Finance committee chairperson Cllr Chigora defended the committee saying the Engineering department is the one delaying to approve proposed projects as it is the one which approves if the project is worth pursuing or not.

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