The budget consultative meeting, which was supposed to take place at Town House today between Council and residents’ and ratepayers’ associations, failed to take place due to Council’s tardiness – despite the meeting being in their own building.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 10am. However residents’ organisations were made to wait for an hour without any official communication from the Council. After half an hour of waiting, the organisations deliberated amongst themselves that Council was taking them for a ride hence the need to send a clear picture.
The more than 30 representatives from various organisations unanimously agreed to walk out. This they did when the Council team arrived led by the town clerk and City treasurer. The City treasurer apologised but his apology was rebuked.
“We have heard your apology but we believe this meeting should be postponed because we have other business to take care of. When we agree 10 o’clock it should be 10 o’clock,” said one unidentified attendee as he walked out.
Simbarashe Moyo, chairman of the Combined Harare Residents Association, who was present at the meeting, complained that the Council is not taking the organisations seriously.
“We have been here for long and this is not the first time. Last week they did the same thing when they had called us for a meeting on prepaid water meters. This clearly shows that they are not serious with engaging with us. There is need for us to send a clear message,” said Moyo.
Others said that Council should desist from the habit of coming late for meetings, “This habit of keeping people waiting should not be allowed. They are deliberately undermining the power of residents so that we do not contribute to the budgeting process,” said Israel Mabhoo, chairman of the Harare Residents Alliance.
The city’s town clerk, Dr Mahachi was clearly unhappy with the organisations’ behaviour as he was overheard probing the City treasurer on how the meeting had been organised.
Speaking to journalists after the walk out, City treasurer, Misheck Mubvumbi said that Council wanted to involve all stakeholders in the budgeting process.
“The consultation meetings are being carried out to consult stakeholders, as well as include their input in the budget so that we know of what to include and exclude in the 2014 budget,” said Mubvumbi.
The meeting has been rescheduled for Friday at 10am at the same venue.
Other consultative meetings are reportedly going smoothly at other meeting points around Harare. The meetings started yesterday and will run until the end of October in all 46 wards. Residents can refer to the municipality website or ask their councillors for the dates and times when the council budget teams will be visiting their area.