GWERU - Civic society organisations (CSOs) have been urged to play an oversight role to help fight the abuse of funds in public institutions as local authorities tend to hide their malpractices behind fake consultative processes.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) workshop last week in Gweru, Midlands State University (MSU) lecturer and academic researcher, Dr Vincent Chakunda said councils were not interested in true consultative processes before drafting their budgets.
“We need accountability in the management of public finances. My feeling is that budget processes oftentimes lack genuine consultation with the public. There is a lot of window-dressing being done to give a façade of public input. You even find that a number of youth and women don’t take part in these processes,” Chikunda said.
He said most institutions were failing to account for public funds because of corruption.
“We have people in places of influence serving the public but they are busy looting instead of serving people. We once heard (Gweru City) council saying it was accounting for the previous books but the question still stands; after accounting what do we get? Was the institution in short of accountants to do that job in time?
“So questions may arise and that’s where we need civil society and residents associations to take charge and challenge local authorities on issues regarding funds. These funds belong to us as residents and we must be well informed,” said Chikunda.
Chakunda said citizens must demand accountability from their leadership, saying office holders on their own will not deliver on that without active citizen oversight.
ZIMCODD socio-economic analyst, Tafadzwa Chikumbu said council must be made to observe principles of good budgeting.
“Principles of good budgeting include comprehensiveness, discipline, contestability, information to improve on transparency and accountability as well as information dissemination.
“You know the old system of dealing with budgets was long as it required council to wait for the Ministry of Local Government to approve their budgets. As we move towards devolution of power, we hope to see changes being made in budgetary processes to improve efficiency,” he said.