Mutare City Council has been failing to consistently produce financial audit reports, raising suspicion of misappropriation of funds by the local authority. This was revealed by Danish Church Aid research manager Davison Chadebika at the launch of Cities in Distress Municipal Budgeting and Financial Management survey report in Mutare hosted by the United Mutare Residents Ratepayers Trust on Saturday.
The report presented the findings of the survey conducted by the We Pay You Deliver (WPYD) consortium consisting of 10 resident organisations including Harare Residents’ Trust, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Trust, Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance.
“The main purpose in terms of the study is to see how local authorities are managing their budget, how are they are raising the money and how are they using the money,” Chadebika said.
“We are eager to see the participation of residents when the local municipalities are conducting their budget processes. But we are not happy with Mutare City Council and other local authorities for failing to provide financial reports month, quarterly, annually.”
Chadebika said no local authority has consistently provided financial data to its residents since 2012.
“In Mutare, there is mistrust between the local authority and residents because of the failure by the local municipality to provide audited reports,” he said.
Chadebika said the survey was aimed at understanding local authority budgeting processes and recommend ways of improving citizen participation in the processes.
“The current budgeting process is not serving its intended purpose, at least according to the objectives and aspirations of local authorities,” he said.
United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers director Sebastian Bakare said there was need for massive consultations between residents and local authorities when discussing their budgets.
“Residents should participate heavily in the issues to do with budgets and financial audits and this is meant to build trust among the residents and local municipalities,” he said.
The Finance ministry has urged local authorities to prioritise service delivery in their budget by allocating 70% of their funds towards that.
Councils have been accused of spending more on salaries, leaving service delivery to collapse. Litter has gone uncollected for months in many towns and cities and ratepayers are also contending with perennial water cuts as local authorities fail to meet their mandate.
Mutare City is reported to have last had audited their financial reports about three years ago.
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