Rural District Council level

What guides RDC financial management?

The overall policy for financial administration by RDCs is set out in the Rural District Councils Act (1988) and the Accounting Handbook for Rural District Councils. These state that:

  • Every council shall maintain proper books of accounts;
  • The books shall be kept using double entry accounting principles;
  • Every council will maintain a permanent record of moveable and immovable assets.
  • These policies also apply to the financial administration of CAMPFIRE revenue and assets. Importantly, the Accounting Handbook clearly prohibits loans between accounts. RDCs cannot use the CAMPFIRE Account to make loans to other RDC accounts.

What should the CAMPFIRE levy be used for?

The RDC levy is set at a maximum of 15% of gross CAMPFIRE revenue. The levy should be paid from the CAMPFIRE Account to the RDCs General Account at the same time revenue is disbursed to producer communities. Once in the General Account the levy can be used for general council activities.

What should the management fee be used for?

The management fee is set at a maximum of 26% of gross revenue. To balance income and costs to the RDCs all appropriate natural resource management activities should be transferred to sub-district levels along with the disbursement of the management fee to the community. The activities and costs incurred by the RDC will depend on the scale and complexity of CAMPFIRE within the district.

The RDCs management fees should not be used for infrastructural development. Even when such projects are proposed to donors, RDCs need to be very careful about their long-term technical viability and who will bear the maintenance costs.

The types of expenditure of RDCs can be broken into:

  • Programme management and co-ordination: The need for the RDC to manage and co-ordinate CAMPFIRE activities will depend on: The scale and diversification of CAMPFIRE activities;  The level to which activities have been devolved; The development of new activities.
  • All RDCs will have to fund some CAMPFIRE management and co-ordination activities. The scale of CAMPFIRE activities will determine the costs. The costs of travel, meeting allowances, accommodation and stationery, at a district level, should all be met from the management fees.
  • Resource management: To be cost effective there are some activities which are best done at district level. These activities can legitimately be paid out of the RDC management fees. An example of such an activity might be small and armed “anti-poaching” or “problem animal management” teams.
  • For other activities, which involve many producer communities, for example district level quota setting, the RDC might request producer communities to make a financial contribution to the costs.
  • Training and technical support: Successful devolution of natural resource management activities is a process. It is important that communities receive appropriate training and technical support. CAMPFIRE aims to develop producer community capacity to manage natural resources. RDCs need to ensure that this process is being adequately supported through training and technical advice. It is, however, important that it is provided in efficient and cost effective ways. The exact mechanisms for doing this will vary from district to district.
  • Capital and other equipment: To support the smooth running of CAMPFIRE activities, RDCs may invest in capital and other equipment such as: a vehicle, office furniture, computers, and other equipment for use in the implementation of a natural resource management programme. The equipment should be used for CAMPFIRE in a cost effective way.

Summary

In Zimbabwe CAMPFIRE producer communities cannot function independently of the RDC. A maximum of 26% of the gross CAMPFIRE revenue should be used to support community-based, natural resource management activities at RDC or community level. RDCs need carefully to consider the cost of their CAMPFIRE activities in relation to the revenue they can retain.