By Wisdom Mumera
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has come out in support of Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni for refusing to endorse the 2018 budget.
Manyenyeni wants non-service delivery-related expenses slashed before he can give the budget a green light.
The residents association said an analysis of the budget showed that the city faces serious financial management challenges that require urgent attention and the stance taken by the mayor is “only but an initial part of the overhaul of the systemic challenges facing the city”.
In a statement, CHRA said Councillor Manyenyeni has done a laudable thing in his stance “to demand substantive changes in the management of finances and budgeting framework for the 2018 financial year”.
However, to bring progress to the current stalemate the residents’ representative organisation has urged the Councillor to go ahead and sign the budget.
It said it’s adequate that the Mayor has placed his complaints on record.
Manyenyeni has reportedly stated that he wants a massive cut on the money spent by the local authority in funding the city’s football team and hefty salaries paid out to council workers.
“I will sit down with management to discuss the issues that if brought out in the public domain will be an embarrassment to us as a city. Among them is the money spent on the football team,” he said.
According to media reports, salaries and allowances in 2016 alone gobbled US$116.3 million representing about 29.9 percent of total expenditure while the remaining US$229.2 million was supposed to go towards service delivery.
However, poor revenue collections which have resulted in the city only collecting close to 50 percent of what it is owed by residents, this has resulted in salaries and allowances bill consuming over 60 percent of collected revenue.
Harare City Football Club is reported to have had an expenditure budget of US$5.5 million in 2016 which was later revised downwards.
Manyenyeni has said the football budget is too much for the city owing to challenges it is currently facing in services delivery.
Harare has been battling a string of challenges chief among them the recurring typhoid outbreaks in Mbare which has been blamed to non-collection of refuse, failure to provide safe and clean water and repairing of broken street lights among other challenges.
The Council has, in turn, laid the blame on residents whom it accuses of failing to pay their rates.
Finance Director for the Council, Francis Kwenda is on record stating that residents owe the council nearly US$700 million in unpaid arrears, a situation that has crippled the council’s ability to offer services