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Analysis of 2012 City budget making process
Harare Residents' Trust (HRT)
September 22, 2011

Executive Summary

As part of monitoring the performance of the City of Harare and elected councillors, the HRT has followed through and participated in the first round of the City of Harare pre-budget consultation process. A total of 23 pre budget consultation meetings were held in the communities with eight cancellations. The meetings were organized and facilitated by the elected councillors in collaboration with the City of Harare employees from different council departments such as Housing Community Services, Waste Management, and City Treasury. In this analysis the HRT takes you through the key issues raised during the first phase of the City of Harare budget consultation meetings. This analysis gives an overview of the performance of the City of Harare 2011 budget from the council's, and residents' perspective. It goes on to give detailed discussions on the schedule, publicity, attendance, facilitation, content of discussion, conduct by councillors, residents' expectations in the 2012 City budget. The HRT has also discussed its policy relating to City budget consultation meetings and its perspective on service delivery. Under each subject of discussion, the HRT provides recommendations to the problems associated with the ongoing process for consideration of stakeholders such as the City of Harare for a pro- poor budget to enable residents to afford council services.

1.1 Performance of 2011/ Current City budget

Beyond reasonable doubt the City of Harare 2011 budget failed to perform according to council as well as residents' expectations. Put simply, the poor state of service delivery in the communities is clear evidence of the fact that the budget has failed to meet the expected standards. The council officials from the City of Harare claimed to have done a lot of work since 2008 for Harare suburbs. The following issues were mentioned as councils' assumed successes with the 2011 operational budget. Council officials said road maintenance was a priority of council and they patched Borrowdale Road and Fourth Street. Council has purchased 20 refuse collection trucks, two generators to crush stones for pothole patching, repaired water pumping and carriage pipes for Morton Jaffray water works, replacement of water pipes in the Central Business District (CBD), resuscitation of sewerage plants, improvement in sewer reticulation, installing of solar powered traffic lights, installing energy savers for street lights and demarcation of roads. Despite this, council officials noted that the capital budget did not perform according to expectations because residents have not paid their monthly bills on time, which has affected revenue inflows. It was highlighted that the city is currently owed US$2.5 million. However, due to the revenue raised council has been able to clear 75% of the illegal dumps of refuse in the communities that had piled up because of inconsistent refuse collection. Council was sharply criticized by residents who felt that its priorities were misplaced. There was heavy criticism for repairing Borrowdale road whilst neglecting the worst roads in the high density areas. The residents highlighted that council is supposed to prioritize water supplies in the communities rather than roads. Residents at all meetings indicated that they were dissatisfied with the performance of the current budget as service delivery remains poor.

1.2 Key objective of meetings

At all meetings, councillors said the main purpose for the pre-budget consultation meetings was to enable the citizens an opportunity to indicate what they expected to be done in the communities. From the explanations given by the councillors, these contributions will then be factored in the budget and the capital budget which will determine the cost of services such as water, refuse collection, sewer reticulation, housing and other services. There are serious problems associated with the identified object of the meetings and the strategy for formulating the budget. There is no doubt that residents' participation in the formulation of the budget is being seriously undermined. It is clear that residents do not have a stake in determining the cost of the services they are going to pay for at the need of the day. This becomes the greatest problem in the budget making process. It becomes critical for the councillors and the City of Harare officials to always guide the participants at future budget meetings so that residents discuss matters related and concerning the City budget. What the City of Harare did was merely a fulfilment of the requirement in terms of the Urban Councils Act Chapter (29:15) that states that local authorities should embark on budget consultation meetings involving residents in the crafting of the budget.

1.3 Schedule of meetings

The City of Harare published a schedule of the budget consultation meetings in the Sunday Mail of August 21 to 27 of 2011. The schedule clearly indicated the name of the ward councillor or councillor responsible for facilitating a meeting, date, time, venue and the respective ward in which the meeting was to be held. In total 34 pre-budget consultation meetings were supposed to be held in the communities. From the published schedule, some of the wards were paired for example ward 3 and 4 (Mbare), 11 and 12 (Mbare National), 25 and 26 (Highfield), 39 and 40 (Dzivarasekwa). The pairing of wards brought confusion to the residents' association intending to closely monitor the process and the residents who intended to attend the meetings. City of Harare like in previous years used the Sunday Mail to publicize the meetings. To most vulnerable and poverty stricken residents in the communities, the newspaper remains are rare and unaffordable commodity to them. Buying a newspaper is viewed as a luxury by the resident who is failing to pay his or her rates to council especially from the high density areas. Although most residents from the low and medium density areas are able to buy newspapers, to the greater public the paper remains inaccessible and unaffordable. This means that the meetings were not well publicized by the City of Harare. There were several changes and shifts to the initially publicized schedules for example in Greendale, Mandara, Waterfalls, Mabvuku and Tafara. This gave confusion to the residents as they would reach venues where there was not even a council official. However, most of the scheduled meetings took place as indicated on the initial publicized schedule, a total 15 of were held as scheduled out of the publicised 34. Eight other meetings were held after they had been postponed. Percentage wise, there was 44% adherence to the published schedules. Several meetings were cancelled due to poor planning and poor attendance. There is no doubt that the schedule of meetings did not work well for the City of Harare. A second schedule of meetings was given to City of Harare officials and councillors but not to residents' associations or other stakeholders. The HRT was not given the refined schedules and to rely on councillors and city officials for information, which was inconsistent. There are 46 wards in Harare but the City of Harare plan did not cover some of the wards. This can be exemplified by Borrowdale Ward 18, Southerton Ward 14, Highlands Ward 8, and Budiriro Ward 33. There is need to strictly adhere to the published schedule. Changes to the initial schedule should be widely published so as to reduce confusion in the process.

1.4 Publicity of meetings

The City of Harare produced publicity flyers for pre budget meetings in the communities. These flyers were given to elected councillors responsible for meetings in the area. The clear number of flyers given to each councillor is not known. The flyers are said to have been dropped door to door and in the residents' letter boxes as invitations to the residents of a particular ward. The PR Department of the City of Harare is either totally dysfunctional or it dismally fails to recognise publicity opportunities for the City when they see them. This means that there could have been a selective approach to inviting residents. There were reports of councillors using commuter transport for publicizing the meetings. The HRT also produced at least 360 invitations which were distributed in each community trying to mobilise people to attend these crucial meetings. These encouraged residents to attend the meetings in their numbers and make meaningful contributions for the 2012 City Budget. However, the failure by the City of Harare and elected councillors to have a clear publicity strategy affected residents' attendance for the meetings. The publicity flyers were not in vernacular language but were in English. Most illiterate residents failed to find the need and importance of attending the activities. The councillor for Mabvuku Ward 19, Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi managed to have a publicity team which went around Mabvuku with a mega phone inviting residents for the meeting. Unfortunately this was not the case with the other councillors who were actually strangers in their own wards. Publicity of meetings was a challenge for councillors representing low and medium density areas. There was a chance for councillors to adequately publicize meetings in the high densities but this was not well executed. Where meetings were publicized well, residents failed to turn up for the activity showing a clear lack of confidence by the public in council processes. It could also mean that citizens have lost interest in public affairs. Examples in which meetings were well publicized was in Harare Central, Avenues area where the Councillor Charles Nyatsuro Ward 2 and Ward 6 dropped flyers in many residential flats but residents never showed up for the meetings. There is need for the councillors and the City of Harare to have a clear publicity strategy to arouse residents' interest in the process. Citizens expressed doubt that their views would be taken seriously and found no compelling reason to participate. The HRT would want to see public participation.

2.1 City of Harare Teams

At all meetings the City of Harare had departmental representatives except on occasions where some departmental representatives failed to locate the venues of meetings showing that they do not really know the areas they serve as a local authority. There were representatives from the City Treasury, Chamber Secretary, Harare Water, Waste Management, Human Resources, Engineering Services, Urban Planning Services and Housing and Community Services. There was rotation at the meetings with different City representatives attending the meetings in turns which is commendable. The City team used council vehicles to and from the venues and were taking distilled bottled water at the meetings. Clear examples include budget meetings in Greendale, Glen Norah, and Kuwadzana 1, 2, 3 and 4 meetings. This is a clear indication that the City authorities themselves have no confidence in the water that council supplies to the residents. The City officials were more concerned with portraying a positive image, repeating their assumed successes, than admitting their weaknesses which provide learning experiences. Successes included road repairs and maintenance indicating they had managed to repair roads such as Fourth Street and Borrowdale roads. The local authority has been able to replace damaged and old water pipes in the Central Business District (CBD). Residents however castigated the city officials for failing to give a clear breakdown of the expenditures of the council in line with the City budgets from 2009 to the present, outlining major achievements and failures so that they used the consultations as a learning tool. The City of Harare should be well represented at the meetings that they have in the communities as they were unable to respond to some crucial issues such as the salary scales of directors and heads of departments, the zoning system and cases of corruption.

2.2 Residents' Attendance/Participation

Residents in the targeted communities failed to attend most of the meetings, as expected by the HRT. Of the 23 meetings held, only six meetings had over 100 people. These were meetings in Glen Norah, Mabvuku, Hopley, Tafara, Warren Park and Mufakose. The Hopley meeting had over 2000 participants. This is the only community which is represented by a ZANU-PF councillor Mrs Evelyn Njiri of Ward 1. The Glen Norah meeting had close to 110 participants, Mabvuku 230 participants, Warren Park 150 participants and Tafara 186 participants. The attendance at most meetings was very poor, leading to cancellations as occurred in Greendale, Mandara, Mount Pleasant, Belvedere, Arcadia, Waterfalls and Harare Central. At one time in Mount Pleasant there were only three residents and 10 council officials, in Belvedere there was not a single resident in attendance yet there were 11 council officials. Overall attendance at the City of Harare pre-budget consultative meetings was extremely poor. It could mean one of several things. This could be an indicator of no confidence in the local authority or that people all fed up with seemingly political gatherings that do not bring tangible benefits. It could be that the councillors are unknown or they are too partisan to want to address audiences that they do not control or know. In separate discussions on this, some residents said their voice was not being taken seriously so they found no reason to participate in the meetings. Others argued that the City heads of departments were simply imposing their will on the residents and refused to listen to the concerns of people. Budget meetings and any other City of Harare meetings should be well publicized as highlighted above to enable maximum attendance of residents in a particular ward. There are approximately 5 000 - 6 000 people registered as voters in each ward hence there is no justification for failure by an elected council to fail to mobilize residents for such crucial meetings.

2.3 Content of Discussions

The content of the discussions at the meetings defeated the whole purpose of budget consultative meetings. Residents at the meetings raised concerns about poor service delivery by council as shown in poor water supplies, rampant corruption in utilisation of resources, bad road network, poor sewerage reticulation, inconsistent billing and other faulty services. There was never meaningful debate on the City of Harare 2012 budget. It was an expectation that councillors and City representatives especially from the treasury department take the participants through the expenditures of the council and the possible cost of council services such as water, refuse, housing, sewerage reticulation, health services and education. There is no doubt that residents failed to make meaningful input on the budget because they had so many service delivery concerns that they had to pour on the city teams. However, residents in areas such as Mount Pleasant, Malbereign and Mandara seriously criticized council representatives for reports, which were not denied, that City directors and departmental heads were getting hefty salaries ranging between US$10 000 and U$15 000 yet service delivery was collapsing. The meetings were reduced to mere service delivery meetings and residents exploited them to get to ask important questions to their councillors who have abandoned them in most respects. There has not been adequate feedback on council's operations, hence the criticism that they have not been effectively represented by their elected councillors.

3.1 Conduct by Elected Councillors

Most of the councillors exhibited poor leadership qualities at the meetings and appeared to be in shock at the issues raised by residents. They failed to lead the discussions and guide the participants through the deliberations especially on the city budget. Councillors in Tafara and Mabvuku could not control the residents who kept on firing questions to the city team demanding sound responses to their concerns. Councillor Friday Muleya of Ward 3 and 4 totally distanced himself from Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare, one of the venues for the budget consultation meetings due to fears of political violence. Councillor Clement Mugove Ward 12 Mbare reported that he was sick and was unaware of what took place at the meeting. There was heavy bitterness in the public at the meetings. The behaviour by residents at the meetings clearly showed that councillors have not been in touch with the communities. Councillors kept on asking residents to make contributions on what they want to be included in the 2012 budget saying that these contributions will determine the capital budget. At a budget meeting in Kuwadzana Extension, Council Resias Masunda told the residents that the budget had already been formulated after residents made several contributions about what they need in their community at a pre-budget consultative meeting at Kuwadzana 8 Primary School. This was more or less the approach by the other councillors at their meetings. A budget meeting to be held at Arcadia creche was cancelled due to poor planning by Ward councillor C.J Nyatsuro of Ward 2 in Arcadia. Investigations by the HRT team revealed that there was no prior communication to the owner of the crèche that a meeting was supposed to be held there. Most of the councillors were at pains to articulate how the budget would be formulated. This clearly shows that despite the several trainings of councillors and their countless exposure to international tours for capacity building they still lack the capacity to be real effective policy makers. They still marginalise residents in their work.

3.2 Residents' Expectations

Although residents did not discuss the real aspects for the budget for example the cost of basic services such as water and refuse, residents raised several concerns on service provision and highlighted their expectations in their communities for the 2012 budget. Residents from all areas highlighted that they need the City of Harare to prioritize water supplies to the communities by pumping adequate and clean water to the communities. To them this should be the priority in the city budget. Residents from high density areas highlighted that they need schools, clearing of the drainage system, upgrading of the sewer system, maintenance of roads, uplifting of council accommodation, drilling of boreholes, uplifting of health services in council clinics, water reservoirs, market stalls for vendors, recreational areas and bridges. Residents from high density areas mentioned the need for constant water supplies in the suburbs. Although they mentioned some requirements such as the need for refuse collection at all times, they were more concerned with knowing the administration issue of council such as procurement and salary scales for directors and workers arguing that the City of Harare is a public institution. They demanded to see audited reports for previous budgets before a fresh budget can be crafted. This is a clear indication that residents of Harare have lost confidence in council systems and feel that their rates are being diverted to foot management expenses for luxurious life styles at the expense of service delivery. There is increased conflict between residents and the local authority which is bound to affect revenue collection. Residents in low density areas such as Mount Pleasant, Mandara and Greendale highlighted that they expect to pay for a service and that it would be unfair to continue paying for services not rendered. A compromise should be reached where council indicates clearly what can be done for the residents of a particular ward then give reasons why a certain development cannot be undertaken. The council should appreciate the need to uphold transparency and accountability which are essentials for good governance.

3.3 HRT Policy and budget meetings

The organisation expects that at least 100 people be in attendance to validate the outcomes of the pre-budget consultative meetings. Failure to have this minimum number, the meeting should either be cancelled or rescheduled. Six out of 23 meetings, translating to 26, 09 percent of the meetings had the participation of over 100 people.

4.1 Conclusion

From the above, it becomes clear that the City of Harare is on its way to formulate an exorbitant budget for the residents of Harare. Our view is that the meetings were simply held to fulfil a requirement of the Urban Councils' Act (Chapter 29:15). The content of the discussions at the meeting clearly showed that the meetings lacked direction.

Visit the Harare Residents' Trust fact sheet

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