It has emerged that most wards in Harare are still working on systems to access their share from the 10% retention fund that was adopted by council last year during the 2015 budget formulation process.
Council adopted a resolution that allows each ward to retain 10% of all collected revenue for developmental purposes. Councillors and district officers were mandated with the setting up of ward development committees to administer the retention funds.
However, nearly six months after adopting the resolution only 23 wards out of 46 have managed to complete the process of setting up ward development committees, and out of the 23 that have finished, just one ward, Borrowdale’s Ward 18, has received an allocation. The City’s principal communications officer Michael Chideme, revealed that Borrowdale has since received its 10% retention for January only.
“The councillor for Sunningdale Ward 10 has also submitted his proposal and it is being processed. As for other councillors, they are still working on their bids,” said Chideme.
According to minutes of the 1,840 Full Council meeting that passed resolutions on the formation of ward development committees, the tenure of the committees are aligned with the City of Harare financial year that is from 1 January to 31 December. However, it is worrying to note that the retention system is still to be fully implemented five months into the year.
In order for wards to access their retention funds, councillors are required to submit a project proposal, three quotations for the work to be done, and then they have to fill out a council retention disbursement form. Contacted for a comment councillor for Ward 18 Rusty Allan Markham said that he has so far withdrawn $6,000 from his retention account for a road rehabilitation project, but complained about the bureaucratic processes involved.
“Implementation of the retention scheme is slow because council executives are making it very difficult to withdraw the money, and people (councillors) are giving up. So far I have managed to withdraw $6,000 for a road rehabilitation programme,” explained Markham.
The councillor for Ward 18 said that if used correctly the 10% retention can do a lot to develop the wards, “Wards can achieve much more development with the 10% from the retention fund than what council can do with the other 90%.”
One of the councillors who is still to access funds from the retention scheme, Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi (Ward 19), said that councillors were now worried that other wards are also missing out on the retention programme. He said, “Last time when we enquired they (council executives) said they still want to polish up the policy.”
Another councillor who is still to access the funds, Gilbert Hadebe (Ward 39), revealed that most councillors are still to receive the council agreed procedure document on application for usage of the retention funds.
“This (procedure document) is yet to be given to every councillor by the chamber secretary. It is important in order to have transparency concerning the use of the money, and as a guide to where the money is most needed,” said Hadebe.
When contacted for a comment on what was delaying the disbursement of the retention funds, Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said that council was still working on modalities for funds disbursement.
“It is a completely new thing and there are different expectations of how to approve, access, govern and monitor (the retention funds),” said the mayor.
However, others have attributed the delays in setting up of ward development committees to political interference, as well as negligence on the part of some of the councillors to take on the management procedures involved.
In the meantime, residents are forced to endure a crumbling city infrastructure with few signs of reprieve.