Last week, the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) observed the 2018 budget consultative meetings in Wards 5, 13, 15, 19, 31/32, 37 and Ward 38.
Generally, low attendance marred the meetings with some of the meetings attended by as low as 20 residents.
In Ward 15 for example, the budget consultative meeting had to be postponed after Harare City Council officials and residents concurred that the meeting could not go ahead due to poor attendance.
Residents blamed the Harare City Council for failing to adequately publicize the budget consultative meetings. Some of the residents said they had not been notified of the meetings on time.
CHRA is seriously concerned that due to poor attendance emanating from poor publicity, the Harare City Council 2018 budget consultative meetings will not be able to adequately capture the contributions and concerns of Harare residents.
As such, CHRA would like to put it on record that with the exception of Ward 19 where about 300 residents were in attendance, the budget consultative meetings held in Wards 5, 13, 15, 31/32, 37 and 38 were seriously flawed.
It is our position that any outcome from a flawed process cannot be taken to reflect the input of residents.
Below are CHRA’s submissions on the Harare City Council budget consultative process;
- It is the process or manner in which the budget consultative meetings are conducted which will result in an acceptable and legitimate outcome. In this regard, CHRA notes with serious concern the short notice given to residents and other relevant stakeholders as well as the lack of adequate publicity around the consultative meetings on both print and electronic media
- Due to the lack of adequate publicity, CHRA is worried that some of the meetings have registered very low attendance and as has been the norm in previous years, this will result in submissions from a few attendees being taken to reflect the concerns and contributions of the majority of Harare residents. It is thus necessary to endorse submissions based on a minimum number of attendees per each consultative meeting.
- The report from the budget consultative meetings must be produced within a month of concluding the meetings and be made public
- The Council budget should reflect the reality on the ground especially putting into account the dire economic situation currently prevailing in the country
- Priority should be given to issues of service delivery and the health sector deserves equal attention as well.
- The budget should address and prioritize the Harare City Council’s vision of attaining World Class City Status by 2025