The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT has sunk over $1 billion into various community infrastructure development projects under the 2020 inter-governmental fiscal transfer programme (devolution) in order to address basic social infrastructure needs at the local levels.
Nearly $3 billion was set aside to support local authorities to implement devolution projects in communities this year, with Treasury having disbursed $1,1 billion at the end of October.
The projects, which cover transport; water and sanitation; public amenities; and irrigation, have all been financed through domestic financial resources.
All the projects were implemented through the 100 Day Rapid Results Management System.
The Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo, said the outstanding funds should be disbursed before year-end.
“We are supposed to receive $2,9 billion this year, but so far Treasury is yet to release all of the funding,” said Minister Moyo.
“The last disbursement came in October this year. We understand they will be disbursing more funding any time from now. It is a Constitutional requirement that local authorities are allocated five percent from the National Budget and we know that the funds will come, even if they are disbursed late.”
He said urban councils were prioritising water and sanitation projects while rural authorities were focusing on infrastructure projects such as schools and clinics.
“We have undertaken a number of projects using the funds and, for example, in Harare we are working on the US$9,3 million waterworks project while in Gweru $450 000 has been deployed towards a major water project using the devolution funds.”
Treasury recently released US$9,3 million for urgent works at Manyame and Warren Control Pump stations to help alleviate potable water shortages in Harare and its surrounding towns.
On completion, the project will enable the City of Harare to migrate from drawing water from the highly polluted Lake Chivero to Lake Manyame.
“Although some funds were diverted towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, we made sure that they were directed to the health cluster.
“Similarly, after Cyclone Idai hit, we directed devolution funds towards repairing schools and roads, which are deliverables under devolution.”
Latest figures obtained from the Local Government Ministry show that the Harare City Council has received $450 million, while Bulawayo City Council got $41 million from the devolution funds.
Matobo and Binga Rural District Councils in Matabeleland South and North have been allocated $11 million and $9 million respectively to rehabilitate school and health facilities.
Bikita Rural District Council in Masvingo has so far received $10 million and has focused on roads and health care facilities, while Bindura municipality has received $6 million which has been deployed towards road construction and electricity.
Mutare and Gweru City Councils have received $25 million and $17 million respectively with the two local authorities focusing on water and sanitation.
Distribution of devolution funds is determined by each area’s population; the depth of poverty and the scarcity of social facilities such as education and healthcare; as well as the state of infrastructure such as roads.