Thursday, December 3, 2009

2009 budget carried over to 2010

The Bulawayo City Council conducted the second phase of the budget consultation process which saw them convening a stakeholders meeting on Friday 27 November at the Small City Hall. The series of meetings continued in different wards all over the city during the weekend and are expected to continue in the remaining wards the following week ending 6 December 2009. The budget consultation meetings being carried out are feedback meetings of the process that started in October in preparation for the 2010 financial year. The objectives of the budget consultation programme had been to establish implementation challenges for 2009, confirm priority areas for 2010 and to establish options for financing the budget and get stakeholders commitment.

Priorities for 2010 have been set out as water, sewer, health, housing, social services, education, public lighting and roads. Council has proposed to have a standstill budget which will see the 2009 budget being carried over to 2010 and the tariffs remaining unchanged. This is because Council did not achieve what they wanted to do and would not be logical to increase rates for 2010 when only 20% of the ratepayers were able to pay this year. The total budget for 2010 is US$ 123,402,271. Of this amount 37.5% will be for general expenditure, 33% for repairs, 27.5% for staff welfare, capital contribution will be 1, 8% and 0, 2% for capital charges.

Council went on to highlight the actual cost of some of their services and how much residents are currently paying:
Actual cost
What consumers are paying
Fixed cost for water

Expected Bills
In terms of actual costs residents in areas like Emakhandeni might get bills in the range of US$18, Suburbs US$24, Mahatshula US$29 and Burnside US$39.Valuation of properties is so old and was last done in 1992 and was done in Zimbabwe dollars and as a result the system of calculating rates is not user based. Rates for properties in the high-density suburbs are based on supplementary charges that are usually lower than they ought to be whilst rates in the low-density suburbs are property based, that is they are based on the value of the property and the developments made thereof. The other contributing factor to the seemingly high rates is the element of water levy and roads levy which are usually about 50% of the actual cost and these increase rates. Council pledged to look into these levies and make necessary adjustments as residents lamented. As a recommendation from stakeholders present at this meeting it was agreed that the budget should run up to June 2010 then it should be reviewed to assess whether there will be any commitment from ratepayers to pay and if not try to interrogate why people are failing to commit themselves. More awareness should also be created to encourage people to pay so as to get improved service delivery. Council on the other hand should also go on an extensive marketing drive in order to attract funding from private companies so as to lessen the burden on ratepayers. Stakeholders felt that the issue of a website is long overdue and the City should upgrade itself in order to be accessible to the business community and other stakeholders. Council was encouraged to look for alternative sources of income and residents suggested the public private partnerships, council parks, swimming pools for commercial use amongst other sources.

It was saddening to note that the attendance for the stakeholders’ budget consultation meeting was very low. Awareness should be created so that residents as consumers of services being provided by City Council should be proactive and part of the budget process from the onset instead of merely reacting by not paying.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


By Khumbulani Maphosa

Councilors, Chiefs and members of the House of Assembly who attended the Gwanda Rural District Council full Council meeting on 25 September 2009, have raised their concerns on the way the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) is operating in the district.

ZIMVAC is a committee made of various government agricultural organisations and is mandated to make assessments on the food security situation in the country. Some of the organisations that constitute the committee are AGRITEX, AREX, Ministry of Agriculture, the District Administrator’s office and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

The Councilors were concerned that ZIMVAC has been producing yearly reports on the food situation in the district, yet they have never been seen carrying out any on-the-ground surveys in communities. There were also concerns that the Councilors have never received the survey reports, but they only hear of the results through the media.

Honourable M.P O.S Mlilo explained to the Councilors that ZIMVAC was a defunct organisation and will have to explain to them how they are carrying out their surveys.

“ZIMVAC is now defunct and has always been complaining that it is broke, so where do they get the money to move from village to village conducting surveys?” he said.

Clr Mlilo furthered that ZIMVAC has been carrying out surveys from the offices and thus misrepresenting facts. This issue came to light when some Councilors revealed that World Vision was cutting on the number of people who are eligible for food aid, contrary to the harsh reality of imminent hunger and starvation that is so real on the ground. World Vision then explained to the house that it takes reports and recommendations from ZIMVAC, which is a national organ co-coordinated from the District Administrator’s office.

World Vision explained that the ZIMVAC 2009 report that they received indicated that Gwanda communities have enough food and need little of food assistance from the donor community and other agencies.

During the same meeting the Gwanda Rural District Council Audit Committee chairperson Mr George Chipengo recommended to full council that a capacity building programme would add value to the operations of the Audit Committee “so that it’s able to monitor and advise council on pertinent issues.”

Mr Chipengo made the recommendations during his presentation to the full council meeting of the 2007 Externally Audited Accounts. The Audit report that was made by an external auditor Schmulian and Sibanda indicated that council complied with all expected financial procedures and systems in accordance with International Accounting Standards. The presentation was based on the following accounts:
Rates Account
Income Generating Project Account
Cattle Projects Account
Roads, Projects, Works and Planning Account
Human Resources Development and Administration Account
Salaries and Wages Account
General Reserves Account
Health Account
Education Account
Capital Development fund Account
Zimbabwe National Road Administration Fund (ZINARA).

The Councilors adopted the external audited account statement. They further adopted a recommendation to have Schmulian and Sibanda Chartered Accountants engaged to audit the council’s accounts for the year 2008.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The upgrading and construction of schools remains a priority for the Gwanda Rural District Council (RDC).
This was revealed during a Gwanda RDC Social Services Committee meeting that was held in Gwanda on Friday 18 September 2009. Habakkuk Trust’s Local Governance Officer, Miss N Moyo and the Programme Coordinator, Miss B Gumbo attended the meeting in which they also gave a briefing on the work that Habakkuk Trust is doing in Matabeleland South. Habakkuk Trust has in the past worked in Mat South as Secretariat of the Give a Dam Campaign and in July this year unrolled the Local Level Advocacy Programme in Gwanda’s ward two. Through this programme the communities have identified the issue of schools as a major concern and working together with Habakkuk Trust are engaged in advocacy around this issue.

Of particular note is the case of Wilikisa Primary School which the Zhukwe East and West communities identified during the Advocacy Training stage and affirmed as an issue of concern in the public meeting that ensued. The Councillors said the construction of the schools should be a priority and the schools should be registered with the Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture.
It is indeed a positive development that Gwanda RDC has made it a priority, as it makes it easy for the Zhukwe community to advocate on the issue.

To ensure that the advocacy process is an informed one, Habakkuk Trust, through its Local Governance desk keeps abreast with council activities and ensures that information trickles down to the communities through its action teams.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


By Khumbulani Maphosa (Assistant Information Officer)

The Bulawayo City Council has granted permission to a private electronics company to install a solar powered traffic control light in the Central Business District.
According to the latest Council minutes, the company, BMG Traffic Control Systems (Pvt) Ltd wrote a letter to the council requesting to install a demo traffic light. The demo traffic light was tested in Harare and the idea was positively received.

This new development may help to alleviate the high levels of traffic chaos at intersections which is usually as a result of mal-functioning traffic lights caused by ZESA electric power outages and load-shedding. The Council decision also comes after the Habakkuk Trust recommended to the council and other stakeholders in September 2008 at the Energy Indaba that there is need to venture in other sources of energy to address challenges faced as a result of electricity shortages.


By Khumbulani Maphosa (Assistant Information Officer)

The Bulawayo City Council has already approached the Central Government with a request to establish a Municipal Court that will assist the Council to track down defaulters on rent and rates payment.
The Council is currently being owed huge sums of money by government institutions, private companies and individual households who have been failing to own up their debts thus robbing the authority of revenue which could be channeled to service delivery and retaining staff.
The Council minutes stated that the government owes the local authority about US$593 000 as of March 2009. Kelvin North Factory shells owe the council about US$40 153. 55 while the non-payment of shop owners licenses have left the council US$9 500 poorer and mobile phone shop operators are owing US$22 025. 59. Other ratepayers and consumers reportedly owe council about US$14 million.

The Council has thus made the above-mentioned resolution after realizing that most of these cases have been reported to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (the national authority with prosecution powers) but with little or no results at all. If the Council can therefore be given the right to have a municipal court it will help it to arrest and prosecute defaulters thus speed up the recovery of huge sums of money that it is owed.

However, according to the Council minutes the issue is yet to be finalized.

The above development comes as a positive one as this Court would make it easier for the Council authorities to deal with defaulting ratepayers. This issue was also raised during a Habakkuk Trust Policy Dialogue meeting that was held between Mzilikazi Residents and the Bulawayo City Council. The idea of a Municipal Court was also viewed as a way of generating income for the Council, as certain minor offences would be dealt with by the City Council.

Friday, September 4, 2009


By Khumbulani Maphosa (Assistant Information Officer)

The more than four years old Thornville dispute between commercial and communal farmers over the management of water is on the path to being resolved thanks to the mediation efforts of Habakkuk Trust and Watermark Consultancy.

The conflict resolution meeting was held on the 2nd of September 2009 at the Habakkuk Trust boardroom and was chaired by the Habakkuk Trust Programmes Co-ordinator, Miss Belinda Gumbo, who has received intensive training in conflict resolution and mediation issues in Zambia and the United States of America.

The meeting resolved that the dam water management that was initially given to Happy Valley Farm by Shashe Catchment Area sometime in 2007 be taken over by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and all those who would like to use the water to do it via ZINWA. It was also agreed that communal farmers should be more organized in their operations, should craft strict governance and management regulations so as to curb rampant poaching and water wasting behaviors. The communal farmers were also encouraged to think commercially and regard their farming activities as viable businesses.
The meeting also resolved that security measures to minimize water wastage and crop destruction should be enforced.
ZINWA was tasked with conducting site visits and the drafting of the water use agreement forms that will be signed by all the farmers. It was also mandated with coming up with a mechanism of ensuring that Happy Valley farm, which has already paid for use of all the water in the dam be compensated.

A follow up meeting for ironing out some remaining issues was scheduled for the 30th of September at the Habakkuk Trust boardroom. The remaining issues include ZINWA reporting on progress and for the communal farmers to report their progress in terms of rules and laws that will govern them. It is hoped that this meeting will bring a lasting solution to the long standing scuffle.

The meeting was attended by representatives of communal farmers, several commercial tenant farmers, a representative of ZINWA, Watermark Consultancy, Pro-Africa and Habakkuk Trust staff.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


By Fortune Moyo (Media and Publications Officer)

The Empandeni and Embakwe communities have taken their advocacy issue – access to clean water further. A feasibility study has been carried by a water consultant so as to find out specific borehole and well sites that could be resuscitated for the use of the community.

Habakkuk Trust has been working with the communities of Empandeni (ward 1) and Embakwe (ward 13) in Mangwe District as part of the Local Level Capacity Building Programme.

A detailed report of all the water points has been compiled and the findings are that a total number of 68 water points have been visited and assessed. These water points comprise of 36 wells and 32 boreholes. Of the 36 wells, 28 have (at least some) water, while 8 are dry. Four wells have working hand pumps, while 23 hand pumps are out of order. One well with water had no hand pump. The percentage of wells with working hand pumps is 14%.

There are 25 boreholes with water and 12 pumps working, which represent 48% (boreholes-with-working pumps). Of the 7 boreholes that are recorded as dry, 4 have been vandalized and could have yielded water before they were vandalized. In other words there could have been 29 functional boreholes and 41% functional hand pumps.

Some of the hand pumps that are out of order seem to have only minor problems yet there is no evidence that efforts have been made to carry out the necessary repairs or to identify the parts needed. On the other hand there is substantial evidence of what seems to be vandalism (cover slabs thrown into wells; stones thrown into boreholes), while in some instances there are signs of lack of repairing skills (pipes dropped, rods disconnected).

The report stated that it would be helpful to identify and interview the pump minders. But there are also signs that the water point committees might not be active. It is strongly recommended to further probe and investigate why so many hand pumps are out of order and why so many fences and aprons are not well maintained.

It should be noted that the deep wells have been equipped with hand pumps that have 12mm pump rods and 1.5 inch pipes. The District Development Fund (DDF) does not stock these sizes, as the boreholes are usually fitted with 16mm rods and 2 inch pipes. It might therefore be a good idea to modify the deep well hand pumps to take 16mm rods.
Before efforts are made to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the water points that are not operational, an assessment should be made of the capacity of the DDF (Water Section), as well as the ability of the pump minders to carry out the necessary repairs and associated works.

It is Habakkuk Trust’s goal that after the communities have been equipped with the assessment report, the organisation then assists them in taking their issues further to the relevant stakeholders, who can assist them with resuscitating the various water points.

Friday, August 28, 2009


By Fortune Moyo (Media and Publications Officer)

The Local Level Advocacy Programme (LLAP) encourages citizen participation in decision-making processes and also makes them aware of their rights as citizens. It is in this vein that Habakkuk Trust continues in its constitution-making process awareness programme in the communities, where it enlightens the communities on the constitution-making process and how they can be part of the process.

Habakkuk Trust took the awareness programme to Gwanda on the 27th of August 2009, where Habakkuk teams went to Zhukwe East-West, Datata-Silikwe and Dambashoko. A total of 100 participants, from the three Action Teams where taken through sessions on the process and content of the constitution making process.

In Zhukwe, the 49 participants present engaged in heated discussions on issues of rights with a specific interest in women and orphan rights. One woman summed up her concerns when she said “Bayasincindezela thina omama,ngitsho imbiza lemiganu kayibizi thina ibiza omkethu (We are being oppressed as women, even our plates and pots are owned by our husbands).”

There were some expressions that point to a lack of faith in the process as one of the participants felt that views of the ordinary citizen might not be considered when he said “Ubona angani thina abantukazana bangasilalela na? Bangafaka yini izikhalazo zethu kuConstitution (Do you think that anyone will listen to the voices of the ordinary people that we are? Do you think they can actually include our suggestions in the Constitution?),”

The headman made it clear that as a community, they want a bottom-up approach, where they are part of every process, not a top-down process where everything is imposed upon them, including the Constitution itself.
“Sifuna izinto ezivela phansi zisiyaphezulu, hatshi okuvela phezulu kusiza phansi.”(we want bottom up and not top down processes)

Dambashoko had 23 participants, 6 of whom were youths. At the end of the meeting the participants were able to identify issues that they wanted included in the constitution, and which they are going to bring up during the consultative meetings. They identified the right to education for their children as a priority in the new constitution.

Miss Siphiwe Dube buttressed the point by saying, “Mina bengabuya ngizabatshela ukuthi ngifuna abantwana bebelelungelo labo lokufunda (when the outreach teams come to our areas, I will tell them that our children’s right to education should be a priority),”

The 28 participants who were at Silikwe acknowledged the importance of their participation in the constitution-making process. Mr Nkomo said, “It is important for us to be part of the process, because the Constitution reflects my aspirations as a human being.”
Mr Dube, the Convener also said it was important for them to spread the knowledge and information they had gained to other people.
“It is our duty to spread the information to other people. That is what we were taught during the advocacy training,” he said.

These meetings have revealed that there is a huge information gap in the communities as far as the process is concerned. Habakkuk Trust will therefore continue to monitor the constitution making process to ensures that through its various community action teams information filters to the people. It is a Habakkuk Trust priority that the process should be as people driven possible.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gwanda schools desperately in need of classrooms

By Khumbulani Maphosa

Datata and Wilikisa Primary Schools in Gwanda’s Ward 2 are in desperate need of additional classrooms as they are currently operating with five and two classrooms respectively as revealed by the Habakkuk Trust Community Action Team members.

The Datata Primary School, established in 1951 is operating with two blocks of classrooms that have five classrooms. This has resulted in children learning in composite classes, a situation that greatly undermines their learning process, as two classes of different levels are under one roof. This has seen for example some grade two pupils writing grade five homework as they are simultaneously subjected to these different level lessons.

Mrs P Nyoni, an Action Team Committee member said “thina singancedisa nge pitsand, izitina, labantu bokusebenza” (we can assist with pit sand, bricks and labour). There is already a classroom block that is at foundation level courtesy of community effort.

Wilikisa Primary School in Zhukwe was established in 2002 and opened on the 13th of May the same year. The school is operating with just one block of two classrooms with only one of them roofed.

The Datata and Zhukwe Action teams are involved in advocacy work to solicit for the completion of the Datata block and the construction of additional blocks respectively. They have already started doing in-depth research on the various relevant stakeholders whom they can engage at the policy dialogue level. At this stage various stakeholders who are concerned with the issue are called together so that they can commit themselves towards bringing a given community advocacy issue to its logical conclusion.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Councillors' Allowances Gazetted


By Khumbulani Maphosa

The Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development has with effect from July gazetted monthly allowances for Councillors for both urban and rural authorities, a move meant to cater for their welfare and motivate them to efficiently and effectively execute their duties in the midst of the prevailing harsh economic environment .

According to a circular sent to all local authorities recently Mayors in the Cities of Bulawayo and Harare will now receive monthly allowances of USD150, Deputy Mayors USD140, Committee Chairpersons USD120 whilst ordinary Councillors will take home USD100. However in all other cities Mayors will pocket USD130 their Deputies USD120 Committee chairpersons USD110 and other councillors will walk homeUSD100 richer.
Mayors and their Deputies in Municipal Councils will get USD120 and 115 respectively while Committee chairpersons and ordinary councillors will take USD110 and 100 respectively.
Chairpersons of Town Councils will now be getting monthly allowances of USD90 their Deputies 80, Committee chairpersons 70 and ordinary councillors USD60. Chairpersons of Local Boards will however have to contend with USD70 a month whilst their Deputies USD60, Committee chairpersons USD50 and ordinary Councillors USD40.

The situation is however bleaker in Rural District Councils as the Chairpersons are expected to be happy pocketing a paltry allowance of USD50, their Deputies USD45, while Committee chairpersons and ordinary Councillors have to settle for a meagre USD40 and USD35 respectively.

This issue has been a contentious one with some people arguing that when one is chosen to serve the people at a local level, they are not supposed to be paid for that as they are elected for the job. Howver, on the other hand, the Councillors have always requested for some allowances for their job.

What are your views? do you think they should be paid or not?

Mangwe residents encouraged to pay their rates


By Khumbulani Maphosa

THE Mangwe community should ensure that they pay their rates on time so as to realise development in their wards, said the Finance and Human Resources committee Chairperson, Cllr B Ndlovu.
Cllr Ndlovu said this during a full Council meeting on Tuesday 18 August 2009 at the Mangwe RDC offices.

“The money collected through rates and levies will be ploughed back to the community to develop roads and other forms of infrastructure. If a ward has not paid its rates, it will not realise much development because we will not allow funds to be taken from a ward which contributes in terms of rates, to develop another ward that does no contribute anything,” said Cllr Ndlovu

He also advised the council authorities to ensure that development programmes are done speedily in the wards so as to motivate ratepayers to pay their rates on time as they will be realizing the fruits of their rates.

Speaking at the same meeting, the Mangwe Rural District Chief Executive Officer Mr N Mangoye urged councillors to open ward accounts where their proceeds will be deposited.

“Councillors, through their local leadership systems and structures should open ward accounts. It is unacceptable for the council to hand over hard cash meant to be ward plough-backs to individual Councillors as it is risky and compromises on professionalism and accountability,” he said.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lack of advocacy skills affect Matabeleland South projects

By Khumbulani Maphosa

A field tour by Habakkuk Trust and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) to Gwanda and Matobo on the 30th of July revealed that most sustainable livelihoods projects are failing to prosper because communities lack advocacy and development skills.

The team visited an irrigation project at Tsimbane in Guyu under Gwanda district and Patalika/Vusisizwe Project in Sun Yet Sen in Matobo. Both projects are facing viability problems due to theft, vandalism and poor management. Underlying these causes is the communities’ inability to come together and find local solutions to their problems.
The Matobo project has a massive potential of growth and produces a lot of sugar cane and wheat. However, the farmers do not have a proper commercial market for their produce.

Habakkuk Trust’s advocacy programme can come in handy for these communities to equip them with skills of solving their problems and being able to engage potential commercial markets for their produce. In June this year, the organisation trained the Matobo Development Association. The training of these project managers can help complement the efforts of the association and other service organisations, especially those responsible for the establishment and rehabilitation of dams and irrigation schemes.

Councilors need capacity building:Chamber Secretary

By Khumbulani Maphosa

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) Chamber Secretary has revealed that Councilors are in dire need of capacity building on basic governance and advocacy issues, to enable them to execute their duties properly, effectively and efficiently.

Mrs S Zhou revealed this information during a meeting that was held on the 30th of July at the BCC. The meeting was between the BCC and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) working in the city.
Mrs Zhou said since the Council gets new Councilors almost every four years, it is important that they are equipped with knowledge and the capacity to be able to address the grievances of the community. Their lack of skills causes them to confuse technical and administrative issues.
She urged NGOs to see the need for capacity building of Councilors as one of the partnership opportunities between the Council and NGOs working in Bulawayo.

The objectives of the meeting were to establish a forum for interaction between BCC management and NGOs, to enhance goodwill and establish structures to improve communication between the Council and NGOs as well as to share information on various projects being implemented in the city and identify areas where the Council can enhance its facilitative role.