BULAWAYO City Council has agreed to give its workers a $100 increment back-dated to January at a time some local authorities are struggling to pay their workers.
According to a confidential council report leaked to Southern Eye yesterday the cost of living adjustment is a temporary measure pending an improvement in council’s financial position.
Curiously, the salary review coincides with a push by councillors to award themselves new allowances comprising a $600 monthly stipend. The councillors also want $50 per committee meeting and $100 for the full council meeting held every first Wednesday of the month.
A confidential report of the general purposes committee meeting held on March 21 and obtained by Southern Eye shows that the councillors agreed to push for the new allowances during a meeting they held at the Hwange Safari Lodge on March 19. Council caucus chairperson, Collet Ndlovu, then wrote a letter to the local authority with the proposal. He said the proposed figures were reached “after considering the current state of the economy and challenges faced and endured by councillors”.
All councillors, with the exception of deputy mayor Gift Banda, met at the Hwange Safari Lodge from March 18-20. Bulawayo has 29 councillors and this would mean the local authority would spend a minimum of $21 750 on allowances every month.
During deliberations of the general purposes committee, town clerk Middleton Nyoni advised councillors not to rush into adopting the motion. He warned that Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s approval had to be sought first.
“Any proposal on the review of councillors’ allowances was essentially subject to ministerial approval in terms of the Urban Councils Act (CAP 29:15). In the absence of supporting data, the proposal was not likely to receive positive ministerial consideration,” Nyoni was quoted as saying.
The report said despite the hurdles the motion faced, action could be initiated as the process in such matters was normally protracted. Councillors proposed a meeting with Chombo to discuss the allowances.
However, others cautioned against inviting the minister just to discuss the allowances and suggested the broadening of the agenda.
Some of the issues the councillors said could be addressed with the minister could include the city’s developmental agenda such as the rolling out of the strategic plan, performance contracts for staff in terms of the new dispensation and the turnaround of the city.
“A time frame of between two and three months was required for all this to happen. Dealing with the matter in isolation was not likely to yield (a) positive outcome,” the report added.
The Bulawayo City Council’s monthly revenue collection has dropped by 50% and this has been attributed to the 2013 ministerial directive to write off all domestic user debts.
Bulawayo municipality workers are believed to be the least paid among urban councils with the lowest paid getting $180 a month.
A schedule released by the Local Government ministry also revealed that senior management ranked among the least paid in the country.