LOCAL authorities have been challenged to be accountable to communities on how they use beer levies to support socio-economic challenges due to the Covid-19 meltdown.
This comes amid rising concerns that major stadiums and sporting facilities have been abandoned and in a state of disrepair.
Delta Corporation Limited general manager in charge of corporate affairs Patricia Murambinda this week told The NewsHawks the company has played its role in uplifting communities through the Beer Levy.
‘‘Delta, through its sorghum beer brand Chibuku, pays the Traditional Beer Levy at 3% of sorghum beer sales every month as stipulated in the Traditional Beer Act. The company in the last financial year paid to local authorities ZW$266 316 634.11. This financial year to date we released ZW$217 749 529.09 paid to all local authorities,’’ she said in a written response.
She explained that local authorities get the monies depending on how much beer has been consumed in a given covered.
‘‘The money is distributed to councils based on volumes of beer purchased around the said councils,, including urban, cities, municipalities and rural authorities,’’ Murambinda said.
‘‘There are guidelines set in the Public Finance Act on how the money should be used by local authorities,’’ she added.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) director Precious Shumba said residents have not witnessed any upgrading of recreational facilities, including the stadiums in Harare and Chitungwiza.
‘‘The corporate social responsibility financial resources from Delta beverages would have gone a long way if they were utilised in a transparent and accountable manner,’’ Shumba said.
He bemoaned the poor state of sporting facilities. ‘‘Our stadiums are in a state of continuous decay. Youths have nowhere to wind down their time as part of recreation. If the money from Delta Beverages is used properly, it can make a difference. Where nothing is happening, we can only conclude that there is high incompetence in the Harare City Council where officials do not appreciate the time value of money,’’ he charged.
Chitungwiza Municipality spokesperson Lovemore Meya confirmed that the local authority got the levy and used it as part of Covid-19 mitigation in some sectors.
‘‘The money we got as Beer Levy was used for the purchase of protective equipment for service delivery, including those in refuse collection, sewer. Part of it was used to service vehicles for service delivery,’’ Meya said in a written response.
Harare City Council communications manager Michael Chideme had not responded to questions at the time of going to press.
Karoi Town Council finance director Tongai Namusala told stakeholders during a budget and review meeting in the farming town that the local authority received its share of the Beer Levy.
‘‘As a council, we received ZW$3 919 519.70 as ‘beer levy’ that will be channeled towards Chikangwe Stadium and beerhall renovations. We also intend to work on the Youth Centre covering basketball and tennis courts construction,’’ Namusala said.
Chinhoyi Municipality public relations officer Tichaona Mlauzi said they have spent the Beer Levy on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes.
‘‘The amount received as of August 2021 was ZW$3 446 938.70 and we used it to hire excavator, to effect underground water pipes repairs that carry water from Hunyani Waterworks to Spreckley Kopje Waterworks. We also repaired two pumps at Hunyani Waterworks and refurbishment of Hunyani Clinic,’’ Mlauzi said in a written response.
Shumba also challenged Delta to increase the amount being paid.
‘‘The amount being paid by Delta Beverages is not much in US dollar value, given that the company is said to be benefitting a lot from the foreign currency auction exchange system where it gets US dollars at the subsidized official exchange rate. In order to promote public accountability, Delta Beverages company should publish monthly how much each local authority has received from its corporate social responsibility disbursement. This level of transparency and accountability benefits the public interest and minimises corruption in local authorities,’’ Shumba added.
Murambinda expressed reservations on how the monies are being used.
‘‘We don’t believe that the funds are being correctly channeled to mitigate the social problems in our societies,’’ she concluded.
Major local authorities are under fire from residents over suspected abuse of public funds, that creating tension between senior managers and ratepayers who are demanding accountability, transparency, and social justice.