RESIDENTS of Rusape have rejected a proposal by the local authority to conduct online budget consultative meetings, saying some of them do not have data to follow the proceedings.

Rusape Concerned Residents Trust chairperson Godfrey Mufuranhewe confirmed the development yesterday.

“Residents want to meet council officials physically and voice their concerns on the budget, especially the issue of rates. Online budget consultative meetings will disadvantage us because some of us have no gadgets that are compatible to WhatsApp, and the data tariffs are also high,” Mufuranhewe said.

“Council is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to counter restive residents by fast-tracking budget processes through online sessions, but residents are not happy with this move.  We don’t know why council is avoiding physical gatherings yet COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed,” he said.

Mufuranhewe demanded transparency in the budget consultations.

“Residents are demanding transparency in budget crafting processes and want them to be done physically in all 10 wards. Chances are high that council management will connive with councillors to create ward-based platforms to avoid objections from residents so that a defective budget sails thorough.”

He said since residents were struggling to pay rates arrears, they wanted the 2022 budget to address the issue.

Acting town secretary Fransen Shuwa said he was unable to comment on the issue as he was in a meeting.