BULAWAYO deputy mayor Gift Banda has defended councillors’ demands for a 450% hike in their allowances, saying the increase was necessary to cushion the city fathers against the current economic meltdown.
The increases, if approved, would see the lowest earning councillor taking home about $1 000 from $220 monthly.
“We understand that it is not a job, but we are looking at how many people will knock at your door asking for this and that service. Councillors need to be remunerated in a fair manner as their current allowances leave a lot to be desired,” Banda said.
“The councillors are doing a great job. It is unfair to be questioning why they need an increment. I would have understood if they questioned the percentage increase.”
He said residents expected councillors to contribute to activities that take place in their wards and this needed money.
“It’s the very same residents who anticipate that their councillor will at least bring a loaf of bread to a funeral gathering,” he said.
“All these things require some money and where do the councillors get it?
“They use their personal money to attend to issues and problems in their wards.
“It is very unfortunate because we have some other councillors who are not even employed, but all these things are expected from them.”
Bulawayo councillors last week pleaded with Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere to approve requests for an increase in their allowances.
Under the proposed hike, the mayor would earn $1 600 from $350, his deputy $1 500 from $300, committee chairpersons $1 200 from $240 and $1000 for ordinary councillors.
However, the demands have attracted a backlash from Bulawayo residents who argued that the increment was unjusti ed in light of a drop in service delivery and nancial challenges faced by the local authority.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association information manager Zibusiso Dube said council could not a ord high allowances.
“We feel this is a misplacement of priorities among councillors because everyone can see that the council is in a precarious state,” Dube said.
“We believe such a request is unwarranted and should not be tolerated, especially so because it is excessive.
“It would have been better if it was linked to the in ation rate, but the 400% does not make any sense.”