Bulawayo residents have called on the government to block a proposal by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to splurge ZWL$25 million on a mayoral house.
A confidential letter that was leaked to the media recently showed that an interdepartmental committee recommended that the council construct a new house for the mayor in Selborne Park.
The proposal was not well-received by residents, with the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) complaining that they were not consulted.
In a letter to the local government minister July Moyo, BPRA coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the way the decision was reached was against the tenets of good corporate governance. He wrote:
BPRA is concerned by the level of negligence by BCC to consider a cost-benefit analysis as they have resolved to construct a new mansion instead of renovating an earlier identified house in Burnside whose cost would be at least 50% less than the new project.
Residents are also worried because the mansion was not mentioned in the 2021 budget. The decision by the local authority to virement funds from other accounts is a bad financial practice and is against the tenets of good corporate governance. It gives room for abuse of funds by public institutions.
To fund the project, the interdepartmental committee proposed that ZWL$25 000 000 is to be virement from vote 0084/12244 ($16 200 000) and 0084/12245 ($8 800 000) to cater for building costs for the Mayoral house.
Ndlovu reiterated that the move goes against guidelines of the Public Finance Management Act as capital projects of that amount should be budgeted for and go through all processes which include public scrutiny via budget consultations.
He said the move is ill-timed considering the poor service delivery which is currently affecting the city.