20 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Matabeleland District Councils Cry Foul

Treasury is underfunding rural district councils in Matabeleland, a move that has been viewed as stifling development. Records from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development show that

for the 2011/12 financial year, three RDCs from Matabeleland were eliminated from the list of the Public Sector Investment Programmes despite making proposals to Treasury.

No explanation was given for the elimination of Lupane, Insiza and Tsholotsho from the list.

Observers said despite getting most of its votes from Matabeleland, MDC-T, which controls Government funds through its secretary-general Tendai Biti who is the Finance Minister, was neglecting the region.

"RDCs are asked to submit proposals to Treasury for funding. The submissions are made through the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development," said one of the observers.

"For some strange reasons best known to the Finance Minister, Lupane, Insiza and Tsholotsho were plucked off the list of beneficiaries. No explanation was given and we view this as a deliberate ploy to delay development in Matabeleland."

For those that received the money, it was very little compared to other RDCs from other provinces.

For instance, Nkayi RDC was given a mere US$100 000, while Buhera where Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai hails from was given a once off payment of US$1 million.

No any other RDC was given an amount above US$500 000 and there was no special explanation why Buhera got US$1m.

"You can see that there are disparities between the allocations and it is clear that Treasury is reluctant to fund projects in Matabeleland," added the obse-rver.

Nyanga RDC where MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora comes from was given a once-off payment of US$350 000, while a huge RDC such as Binga was only given US$240 000.

The source said it was important for Treasury to explain the criterion it used to allocate money to RDCs.

Sources said Government disbursed money for water rehabilitation in Victoria Falls ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to be held next year, but the money was diverted from the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe to Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam.

Efforts to get a comment from IDBZ were fruitless after its communication manager Ms Priscilla Mapuranga failed to respond to questions sent to her.

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