Harare City councillors are apprehensive about the lack of adequate information regarding the 10% retention system, whereby each council district is set to retain 10% of revenue paid by its residents to promote ward development. The retention system, passed in the 2015 budget, was supposed to start from January. However, councillors say lack of clarity about how the planned system will be implemented will render the scheme ineffective, since there will not be enough time to implement projects within the current financial year.
“It is still a grey area for most councillors. We are yet to get the finer details of how the funds are going to be accessed. There is a need for council to fully explain how the scheme is going to operate, how the funds will be used, and the role that residents will play to determine priority projects,” said Sunningdale Councillor Gary Madzingira.
Councillor Markham, of Ward 18 Borrowdale, shared his concerns, saying that mechanisms need to be put in place to curb corruption and ensure that the system works. “We welcome this development. Imagine what I can do with $30,000? This is huge money that will help me to repair roads and street lights,” he said, referring to the funds his ward can make use of if 10% is retained. He added, “If the retention system is going to be effective, it should get rid of council bureaucracy so that councillors can access the money easily.”
Marlborough councillor Charity Bango echoed Markham’s sentiments, saying that “The current municipal system has lacked transparency and accountability for years.” I believe the 10% retention system will address that since it will involve residents in its administration. For Wards that have development committees it is going to be easy to implement,” said Bango.
Highfield Ward 26 Councillor Special Zuze told Harare News that the retention system was long overdue, but needs councillors to work hard to mobilise community participation. “It should be all inclusive so as not to derail programmes, as disputes erupt over the administration of the projects,” said Zuze.
A precondition of the system is that each ward should have a Ward Development Committee headed by the Ward Councillor, to ensure transparency and accountability. According to Harare City Council Environmental Committee Chairman Chris Mbanga, if the system works as intended it will see a lot of improvements in most of the city.
“This plan will help to hold councillors accountable to residents for service delivery in the city,” said The Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director Precious Shumba, adding that if councillors work hand in hand with their community the retention system will succeed.