Government hikes councillors’ allowances to K3,000

Government hikes councillors’ allowances to K3,000

By Malawo Malawo

LOCAL government minister Vincent Mwale on Thursday told Parliament that his ministry has submitted a Statutory Instrument to the Ministry of Justice that seeks to revise councillors’ allowances from K700 to K3, 000 across the board.

And Mwale says it is the Minister of Finance’s headache to find the money for councillors’ allowances.

Late last year, various councillors contended that articles 264 and 265 of the Constitution allowed them to be paid a salary and not an allowance.

Giving a ministerial statement, Mwale said the Ministry of Local Government sought legal guidance from the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice on whether councillors should remain part-time or become full-time and on whether the civic leaders were entitled to an allowance or a salary.

“It is a considered view of the Attorney General’s Chambers that section 71 and 119 of the local government Act, CAP 281 of the Laws of Zambia are consistent with the Constitution…The Attorney General guided that section 71 of the local government Act empowers a council to pay fees and allowances to councillors with the approval of the minister responsible for local government,” Mwale said.

“In view of the legal guidance provided by the Attorney General, I will, through a Statutory Instrument, revise upwards the councillors’ allowances from K700 to K3, 000. I have since submitted the Statutory Instrument to the Ministry of Justice for clearance [and] therefore the new allowance will be effected immediately the Statutory Instrument is published within the course of this month.”

He added that the Republican Constitution did not state whether or not councillors were to serve on a full-time or part-time basis.

“On the question as to whether councillors are entitled to an allowance or a salary, Article 264 of the Constitution provides that the emoluments of a councillor shall be determined by the Emoluments Commission as prescribed. Article 266 of the Constitution states that emoluments include salaries, allowances, benefits and rights that follow an individual’s remuneration for services rendered, including pension, benefits or other benefits on retirement,” Mwale explained.

“It is worth noting, however, that the Emoluments Commission has not yet been operationalised as the envisaged law to operationalise it has not yet been passed. Once the Emoluments Commission is operationalised, it will be responsible for improving councillors’ emoluments. I wish to inform the House that in the absence of the Emoluments Commission, section 71 and 119 of the local government Act, CAP 281 of the Laws of Zambia are instructive of the entitlements of councillors.”

And in a follow up question, Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili asked about the considerations that were taken to “come up with this meagre allowance, taking into account that mayors are getting K19, 000 per month.”

Mwale justified the mayors’ remuneration, saying they worked on a full-time basis.

Meanwhile, when Namwala UPND member of parliament Moono Lubezhi asked who would be responsible for paying councillors, Mwale said: “The Minister of Finance would be responsible. I want to say that we do not want to over-burden our councils with this huge allowance. Some councils have 30 councillors and they can’t afford [to pay councillors because] they will be competing against provision of services.”

Nkeyema member of parliament Kapelwa Mbangweta wondered where the money to pay councillors’ allowances would come from, considering that the 2017 national budget was approved in December last year.

“That is the headache of the Minister of Finance. For us, we have requested and the Minister of Finance will make provisions. I know that they have contingency and they can come back and seek for supplementary [funding] before we start spending. But I do not want to decide for them,” responded Mwale.