The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
THE Government has increased funds to be channelled to provinces and local authorities under the inter-governmental fiscal transfer by more than 126 percent in a move aimed at adding impetus to the nation’s devolution agenda.
In a circular to local authorities, dated 24 September 2019, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Colonel (Rtd) Joseph Mhakayakora revealed that the fund had since been increased from $310 million to $703 million.
Government allocated the funds to be shared among the 10 provinces based on a number of factors such as poverty levels in all rural districts, quality of infrastructure and the size of the population. Most provinces have started using the funds for construction of schools, clinics and roads, among other projects aimed at facilitating development.
“The 2019 mid-year budget review and supplementary budget proclaimed by Treasury saw an upward review in the revenue projections to year end. The original allocation for inter-governmental fiscal transfers is being reviewed upwards from $310 million to $703 million. The increased funding should provide impetus to our devolution agenda as well as facilitate implementation of priority and impactful projects at the local level,” reads part of the circular.
The increase of the fund could go a long way in implementing a number of key projects in Bulawayo. Bulawayo councillors belonging to the opposition, MDC-Alliance recently raised a red flag regarding the disbursement of the fund in the city, where they questioned why a huge chunk was being channelled towards projects in Cowdray Park.
Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan Provincial Affairs Cde Judith Ncube commended the move noting that the funds would go a long way in developing a number of projects.
“It is certainly good news for us as a province, it is now up to us to utilise these funds in pushing developmental projects,” said Minister Ncube.
According to the latest council report, the Director of Housing and Community Services, Mr Dictor Khumalo reported that the department was seeking to use devolution funds for Cowdray Park projects. The funds were requested to buy materials for Vulindlela Primary and Sizalendaba Secondary Schools in Cowdray Park after budgeted funds were exhausted due to inflation.
Councillors had said the development was a political statement to make it seem as if they were doing nothing in their wards while Ward 28 councillor, Kidwell Mujuru, who is the only Zanu-PF councillor was working.
The local authority’s Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube, later defended the move arguing that Ward 28 which has the Hlalani Kuhle settlement deserves to be prioritised whenever council gets funding.
“I’ve always said the Hlalani Kuhle project when I compare it to Gwanda, it’s three times the size of Gwanda. Our Hlalani Kuhle project has 15 000 housing properties that have no sewer, no water and no access to roads. Whenever the city gets funding, that area is being given priority. And our progress on that should be at 54 percent but is currently at 46 percent mainly because we encountered some rocks in the area,” Eng Dube said.