The council’s sports budget had previously been set at $5,5 million with the Sunshine Boys receiving a $2 million vote.
However, there has been an considerable reduction in the budget with Harare passing a resolution limit their sports budget to $1 million with football now set to receive $400 000.
“Overall, we are reviewing the sports budget from $5,5m to $1m, including football which will be capped at $400 000,” Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said while delivering the State of the City Address.
The austerity measure follows outcry from residents slamming the City of Harare for their misplaced priorities at a time the city is failing to provide adequate service delivery.
Combined Harare Residents Association went as far as suggesting t “that the club had been turned into a platform for looting of public funds by city bigwigs”.
In their defence, Harare council maintained it was nurturing talent, creating employment as well as serving its corporate social responsibility.
However, faced with a widening budget deficit, increased lawlessness among citizens and a ballooning salary backlog which Manyenyeni warned could soon shoot beyond 15 months, HCC is making changes.
“The quest for a high performance council will surely have employment casualties — contract termination must be fair, smooth and quick. We need realistic terms of severance,” Manyenyeni said.
“The call for world class ingredients remains unchanged — I invite stakeholders to evaluate the quality of our government, all our elected and appointed leadership, our residents and our systems to predict the city that you will have.
“The colloquial mantra ‘they do thega’ is at play and it does not work. If nothing is done about our employment cost by the time we hand over to the next council the backlog will be a cool 15 months.”
Manyenyeni has in the past not hidden his reservations for what he believes is abuse of funds at the club and misplaced priorities.
In a Facebook post earlier this year, Manyenyeni said he was resigning as the team’s patron over lack of transparency in handling of finances. The mayor claimed although he was the head of the council, the Sunshine Boys executive was not forthcoming with their financial transactions.
At that time, the council funded-club was partaking in a pre-season camp in Nyanga.
He felt council was failing to set its priorities right by allocating obscene amounts to the team at a time 25 out of 47 of the city’s refuse collection trucks are down.
“The annual football budget can possibly buy 20 new garbage trucks which last a minimum seven years, instantly filling up the gap in waste collection capacity,” Manyenyeni argued then.
On the other hand, the football club had become the envy of many in the Castle Premier Soccer League with neutrals personifying it as an example of how topflight football teams should be run.
The Sunshine Boys were one of the biggest spenders in previous transfer windows as they flexed their financial muscle by signing some of the country’s best players.
This season, the club brought in the highly-rated midfielder Malvern Gaki, who signed from Triangle.
The Sunshine Boys also snapped up former Hwange left back Pritchard Mpelele, who received several Warriors caps during Kalisto Pasuwa’s reign.
Despite their vast financial resources, the Sunshine Boys have enjoyed limited success on the pitch.
Their best finish in the league was back in 2012 when they were beaten to the title by Dynamos on the last day of the season on goal difference.
Harare City’s only major silverware they have won since their promotion in 2011 is the Chibuku Super Cup in 2015.