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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 12 MARCH 2024 VOL 50 NO 34

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 12th March, 2024.

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Members to my right side, please take your seats!

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER

HEALTH, MENTAL AND WELLNESS PROGRAMME

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that Parliament’s Health Service Department, in conjunction with the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), will be conducting a Health, Mental and Wellness Programme from Tuesday, 12th March to Thursday, 14th March 2024. Each day will begin with a presentation from 0900 to 1030 a.m. in the Special Committee Room No. 2 on the ground floor. Thereafter, there is screening for blood pressure, diabetes, breast, prostate and cervical cancers will be held in the clinic area, Rooms 113, 116, 117 and 137 on the First Floor. Hon. Members and staff are urged to attend. The screening process will take place the whole day on the days mentioned.

CLIMATE CHANGE SENSITISATION WORKSHOP FOR ALL PARLIAMENTARIANS

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I also wish to inform the House that Parliament, in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife, shall be holding a Climate Change Sensitisation Workshop for all parliamentarians on Friday, 15th and Saturday, 16th March in the Multi-Purpose Hall at Parliament Building from 0800 hours. The workshop will cover the courses: Impacts and Solutions of Climate Change as well as the Role of Parliament in Addressing the Global Challenge.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. KAMBUZUMA: Madam Speaker, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 7 and 9 to 12 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 8 has been disposed of.

HON. HAMAUSWA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

CONDITIONS OF SERVICE TO IMPROVE THE PLIGHT OF COUNCILLORS

Eighth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the need to address the conditions of service for Councillors.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Madam Speaker, I had switched my microphone on a point of privilege. I wanted to be given an opportunity to say something.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am very sorry Hon. Nyamupinga. We have already passed that stage. I will give you the chance on Thursday.

HON. KARIMATSENGA-NYAMUPINGA: Madam Speaker, it is important that I say something. I had actually spoken to the Deputy Chief Whip and I thought it was in order. That is why I had remained quiet.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Due to our procedures, we cannot go back to what we have already passed. I am sorry.

          *HON. CHAIMVURA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I want to add my contribution to the motion regarding councillors who are very important in that they are leaders.  The issue that I want to highlight is how they clothe themselves, they do not wear clothes which are honourable.  You find some councillors walking long distances in order to meet people whom they lead in their communities and sometimes they fail to meet stipulated meeting times.  You find councillors requesting for transport from the people they serve.  This does not auger well with the people.  Rural councils are in a dire state, where you find people who do not have accommodation representing people as councillors.  They look after a lot of people in their homesteads. Some entertain ten or more people who are in need of food, some who have sick relatives and some who are bereaved. 

          Madam Speaker Ma’am, councillors should be given transport like motorbikes.  Their welfare should be looked into, including the monies that they earn so that they are able to serve diligently with adequate tools.  Thank you.

          *HON. JONGA:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am and good afternoon.  Let me start by explaining what is expected from councillors and let me explain how they are despised in my own understanding.  They are marginalised and looked down upon.  They are despised and viewed as people who are not important.  This means that they are not heard in their communities, even in discharging their duties.  Looking at councils, I believe that this august House agrees with me that councillors are quite important, especially looking at rural areas where people get assistance from councillors. 

          Madam Speaker, let me continue saying that the way they are despised came about as a result of white minority rule during the colonial era, especially looking at black people who were denied education and wealth.  Now that we have independence, especially in the Second Republic, it is my desire that councillors should be helped in how they operate.  They should be assisted on how they do their duties, particularly councillors in rural areas who cover large areas and who walk long distances in order to serve people.  I will give an example, I have a ward in my constituency. It is Ward 30 in Mount Darwin West which has four districts.  It is not possible for a councillor to cover the whole Ward in one day.  They might need a day or two to cover the Wards. 

          Madam Speaker, you would find that sometimes they cover 30 to 60 kilometers and this is quite difficult for our councillors.  Most people who are represented by councillors in rural areas are marginalised in terms of resources.  They have a lot of issues which need to be addressed.  This highlights the plight of the people who are represented by councillors in rural areas.  

          Madam President, the burden which is carried by councillors, looking at sitting allowances, is quite huge and this means that they cannot lead people with dignity.  It is important to enhance the lives of councillors.  The first thing that is needed for councillors are cars which they will use in order to reach different corners or areas – [HON.MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Either one car per Ward or a car in three or four Wards.  This will be quite handy because it will allow them to reach all corners.  His Excellency the President, through Vision 2030, says that there is no one who will be left behind and there will be no place which will be left behind.  So, councillors should not be left behind.  They must have their sitting allowances reviewed so that they have decent remuneration.  They must have projects which would augment the lives of their people in their homesteads and their Wards. 

          Madam Speaker Ma’am, you would find that councillors do not have money to improve the outlook of their homesteads and when they pass on, you would find that their families are left suffering.  If we enhance the way we view councillors and their resources, then this is going to uplift their livelihoods as councillors.  I thank you. 

*HON. NKANI:  Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am for giving me this opportunity to debate. I want to add a few words on this quite pertinent motion which was raised by Hon. Jere, seconded by Hon. Nyamupinga regarding our councils. Firstly, let me start by looking at the importance of a councillor so that we understand how important they are and what they deserve. A councillor is a shepherd or a herdsman who looks after livestock whilst it is raining and does not have raincoat; imagine heading livestock when you do not have shoes and thorns are pricking your feet.

A councillor is a person who lives among the people like what some Hon. Members said that when a challenge comes, it comes via the councillor. Those who need food or inputs are directed at the councillor. Those who are bereaved go to their councillors. Those who need transport for inputs go to their councillors and yet the councillor does not have anything. The answer that the councillor gives the people might not be there because the councillor wants to hear from the District Administrator and Member of Parliament who also do not have answers. The councillor lives in the community with the people. Everyday the people go to the councillor’s homestead talking about their preparations for Pfumvudza/Intwasa and asking what can be done.

I believe that a councillor is very important. A councillor is responsible for promulgation of by-laws which run councils. A councillor supervises all the works that are done by different Government departments in the ward. At the end of the day, a councillor dies of stress because he is burdened by these responsibilities. In my view, a councillor must not get less than US$160 per month.  A councillor should be given a grant, which is money which will assist him with income generating projects. For instance, you find that a Minister is given a loan which is quite substantial. Members of Parliament are given a better salary and a loan around US$40 000 – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Hon. Member did not err but he said that Members of Parliament are getting better salaries than councillors. Please understand what he said. He said that the salaries are a bit better compared to the salary of a councillor.

*HON. NKANI:  I want new Hon. Members to understand that this is my second term. I was given a loan of US$40 000 by His Excellency the President. I was given that loan and I bought a stand. So, I am saying that councillors should be given enough money so that they have sustainable livelihoods. An MP has a car but a councillor does not even have a motorbike. I am saying that a councillor should be given what he or she deserves. They must be viewed in a respectable manner just like Members of Parliament and Ministers. They must be given travelling allowances which can sustain them during meetings so that they can fend for their families. I thank you.

HON. MAKOMBE: I want to add my voice to this very important matter that is being debated. People must understand that local authorities are a creation of the statutes. It is a fact that Zimbabwe is a unitary democratic sovereign republic of which local authorities are a tier of local government. It is also a fact that local authorities operate within the Constitution of Zimbabwe as well as delegated powers from the Ministry of Local Government. These powers at local level are carried by councillors who are elected.

The Government of Zimbabwe established local authorities for a number of reasons, such as to bring Government closer to the people by giving them access to their leaders to enhance provision of service delivery such as roads, water, waste management, education and health; to facilitate community participation in decision making and resource allocation and to facilitate the allocation of national resources. That is why the local government system is provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe under Chapter 14.

To effectively discharge his or her duties, a councillor must have the following attributes which are very important: They must be honest, they must have integrity, impartial, they must be committed, they must be accountable and above all, they must be humble. These attributes make the councillor’s work very difficult but at the same time, very important hence the need to also provide a conducive environment for them to discharge their duties diligently. The current environment does not motivate our councillors to discharge their mandate effectively. At times they are regarded as volunteers and no need to give special attention to their welfare and yet they are expected to discharge their duties given by the Constitution and Government through the Ministry of Local Government.

Local authorities are autonomous but not independent. They can make rules and decisions but they also have to explain what they are doing to Central Government. This clearly shows that they are interpreting or implementing the Government’s vision and programmes of development. The functions of a councillor are key to the development of our country.  Councillors make far reaching decisions that affect people on their daily lives. They give direction and control in council affairs. They provide broad supervision to council officials to ensure that work is done within the policy framework seeing to it that corruption is minimised and ratepayers get value for their money. They are spokespersons and watchdogs for the community. They make policy for council and see to it that services such as refuse collection which I mentioned above is provided. These are critical and very important functions that need to be rewarded.

When these functions are not performed properly, that is when we see the outbreak of diseases such as Cholera and other related water borne diseases. More often when councillors fail to provide quality services, the residents, Government and all stakeholders will always blame the councillor. It is because they understand that the work of a councillor is very important. This understanding must also go further to look at their welfare. I want to appreciate the efforts done by the Minister of Local Government in reviewing the allowances of our councillors. However, I feel that councillors deserve a monthly salary which is commensurate with their duties, which I want to believe that all of us here as parliamentarians, appreciate that they do a lot.

Allowances should be paid as an extra incentive for attending committee and full council meetings and also for their mobility so that they can cover much ground in their wards. A pension scheme must also be made available for them plus medical aid as well as funeral policies so that at least our councillors can be motivated. Very little is done in this aspect. It is also important to make sure that our councillors are motivated.  

If the conditions of service for our councillors are improved, we are most likely to see improvement in service delivery in local authorities for the benefit of our residents. It will also enable councillors to travel to all corners of their Wards where they have to perform their representative roles. It will also make the office of the councillor attractive and competitive locally and comparable intentionally so as to attract capable people to contest for elections and serve the community with distinction. It will also ensure that council business, most of the time, is not disrupted by people who will be talking about allowances.

I want to conclude by saying that most of our local authorities do not have the capacity to pay or cater for all these things that I have spoken about. We also do not want to labour our citizens by financing the welfare of councillors through payments of rates. I therefore propose that the salaries and allowances of councillors be covered by Treasury since they are doing Government-centred work. So I urge the Minister of Local Government to put up the necessary framework so that the welfare of councillors will be taken care of by Treasury. Thank you.

HON. ZIKI: I rise to contribute on the motion moved by Hon. Jere on the marginalisation of councillors. Councillors are an important and integral part of local government, but are hardly recognised. They are an important pillar of support for every successful Hon. Member here present. We have heard speakers who have come before who have spoken about the deplorable allowances for councillors and the work that they do.  I am going to dwell on what I think they should get.

Firstly, I am advocating for an increase in their allowances and I would like to concur with the previous speaker that it will be better if they were paid by Treasury. I am also advocating for free duty vehicles for councillors. We have heard the plight of our councillors in terms of transport. I am sure they are also entitled to benefit from free duty since most civil servants are benefitting from it.

Then there is another issue here and this is probably known by people who have gone through councillorship, that the Mayors and chairpersons do not have offices at council offices. They have to be in the corridors, town secretary or the Mayor’s office to do their business. When we benchmark with councillors within our borders, you find that councillors have offices and a complete secretariat that does the typing and everything that is required by councillors. Also, they are catering for all council meetings outside of council. They drive brand new vehicles, Mercedes Benz, but it will be a pipe dream for us to hope for that. I do not think it will be too much to ask if Treasury would meet the cost of allowances.

I also have an issue here which seems to have evaded everybody. This is the issue of T/S and accommodation allowances. The disparity between these two allowances between an allowance given to a councillor and that given to staff; town secretaries and council employees is very huge. You find sometimes a driver might actually buy the Mayor a drink because the Mayor might be broke. The allowances given to Mayors are so deplorable such that at one time, they made headlines in Bulawayo, I think it was during Trade Fair.

There were some Mayors who were found sleeping somewhere in the suburbs on bunk-beds, one on top of the other like school children and it came out in the newspaper, but they will be trying to save the little allowance that they will have been given. So the issue of uniform T/S and accommodation rates for council staff as well as councillors would be a welcome development.

On the issue of all these benefits that we would want to see, I think this should be anchored on service delivery. We have seen service delivery going down under our watch. In most of our local authorities, we now have sewer bursts everywhere, non-collection of garbage, some of these councils do not even collect garbage until they are threatened by EMA, then you see movement. If they are given all these benefits, we would want to see service delivery of which non-compliant councils should be disbanded and commissions put to run such institutions. We cannot just carry on watching whilst things are going down.

I think that is my last contribution. I can tell you I am so grateful to be part of this discussion because I have been a member of UCAZ and tried to get through some of the issues that we have brought here, but to no avail. I am so grateful to Hon. Jere for bringing this to the attention of the House. Thank you.

HON. MUKOMBERI: Thank you Madam Speaker for this opportunity for me to add my voice on the debate on the marginalisation of councillors. First and foremost, I want to give a contextual meaning of the word marginalisation in the context under debate. In this case we are talking about a councillor being rendered insignificant, treating somebody as not important. I think that is enough to define marginalisation.

A Ward councillor is one of the most significant actors in the governance and administration of local authorities, both in urban and rural local authorities.  It is pertinent to note that local authorities are the third tier in the three tiers of Government in Zimbabwe. So local authorities being the third tier, are there to provide a service to the citizens. It is important to note that councillors are the foot soldiers in direct link with the citizens in the service provision journey by local authorities.  It is very important for the local authorities or Government to motivate councillors through paying them rewards commensurate with the effort they exert in the service delivery journey.  Frederick W. Taylor, a scientist in his wisdom, postulated that a worker is an economic man – once you give him financial incentives, you have motivated him.

          What can be extrapolated from this statement is that councillors are viewed as workers because they do day-to-day service provision in their areas of jurisdiction.  They are machines that are fuelled by financial incentives – that is still according to Taylor.  In carrying out their mandate, councillors are too tied with ward developmental work to an extent that they remain with limited, if not, no time to undertake other activities for the generation of income to sustain their families.  They are tied with a number of functions which include inter-alia, giving direction and controlling council affairs; making key decisions to guide council operations, providing broader supervision of officers to ensure that work is done in line with policy;  monitoring council progress – seeing to it that corruption is minimised and ratepayers get value for their money; investigating complaints from members of the community;  making policy for the council – this is done through attending and participating in council committees as directed by the council; and interacting with staff through the CEO or Town Clerk so as to discuss various issues pertaining to council operations.

          Given this array of a number of functions that councillors are mandated to undertake, the remuneration or allowances that councillors in most local authorities are currently getting are not in tandem with the effort that they exert.  At the end of the day, you will see to it that this may result in corrupt activities by such councillors in trying to compensate themselves through hook and crook.  Some of them may be involved in land scandals or they may give themselves a lion’s share even if inputs are sent to the citizens and they are to distribute them;  they end up giving themselves a lion’s share so as to compensate themselves.

          In all fairness, one cannot expect a family man or woman working the whole month to earn an allowance less than 80 dollars.  How can one sustain personal and family needs or the needs of those under their stewardship as ward councillors?  Some councillors may be impoverished to an extent that they become beggars or depend too much on their Hon. MPs in their respective constituencies for the sake of sustaining their families in times of hardships.  To maintain fairness, I propose that councillors should be paid a standard salary per month throughout the country, not given relative to the discretion by a specific local authority but it should be a standard salary they should be paid throughout the country. Also, they should be given motor bikes. Concurring to the previous speaker, they should be given duty free certificates to import their vehicles as is the case with all other civil servants.

          This might fight corruption in local authorities as councillors may connive with the Executive at local authority to do some fraudulent activity for their benefit.  John Stacey Adams, a behavioural psychologist, at one point postulated for the equity theory in the remuneration of workers.  In this case, we are also considering that councillors are workers.  He said, “equity is based on fairness”.  The effort that one exerts at work should be rewarded by a salary that is commensurate with that effort.  What can be deduced from that statement is that in their perception, councillors my perceive what they are earning as allowances as not fair.  At the end of the day, they try to maintain fairness in their own means and that will accelerate the rate of corruption.  I thank you Madam Speaker.

*HON. KASHAMBE:  Good afternoon Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I would like to add my voice to the motion which was moved by Hon. Jere, the issue regarding our councillors.   The responsibilities of our councillors since the second dispensation are quite huge and everyone is expected to discharge their duties with due diligence.  Because of that, we note that councillors are people and the head is His Excellency, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa. The body is the parliamentarians and the foot soldiers are our councillors.  In the past, councillors were looked down upon and considered part time employees.  They were not doing their duties on a full-time basis.

In rural areas, councillors are always on call.  They work wherever they are.  They work with leadership and represent people at VIDCO level. They are also there in the disbursement of inputs.  They are required to stamp letters for those who are in need of letters for their school going children or for those who need to be treated in public hospitals.  Councillors board two or three cars to reach their destination.  Some come from Marondera to Chikomba where the council office is. Looking at the money they are getting, the allowance is not enough.  It cannot cover their needs.  This is one thing that might culminate in councillors engaging in corrupt activities so that they augment their earnings.  We know that there might be a challenge in terms of getting money but like what every Hon. Member has said, councillors should have a monthly salary.  They should also be given other non- monetary incentives like stands and duty-free cars as they have huge responsibilities.  As Government, we know that councillors are sometimes responsible for funds which should be distributed in communities, but they leave such meetings without receiving anything and we do not think this is easy for them.  On the same note, our councillors, in line with the President’s vision of leaving no one and no place behind, are now doing full time jobs because they are responsible for communicating with the rural populace in village and budget consultations.  I think it is important to review their remuneration so that they are able to send their children to school also.

HON. LINYANE:  I would like to debate on the motion on marginalisation of councillors.  Some constituencies are too big that MPs cannot visit all the Wards in his or her constituency and in such circumstances, they rely on councillors who always have interface with the people in the communities.  They get their concerns on development on a daily basis.  As such, the MPs get information on development needs from the councillors finger tips.  Councillors and MPS work together to achieve development goals. However, councillors are the closest link between Government and the people.

According to the delimitation process, this is troubling.  The merging of two Wards into one without providing additional resources creates an extremely difficult situation for the councillors who do not have vehicles.  It will be very difficult for the councillors to effectively serve the entire Ward, especially if it is large and spread out.   This can have a negative impact on the quality of representation of the constituents in the Ward.  It also raises questions about the delimitation process. 

Madam Speaker, local authorities rely on rate payers to fund their operations and this includes the allowances of councillors.  However, many argue that the current system does not provide enough funding for the councillors to do their jobs effectively.  This is especially true in areas where poverty is high and many people are unable to pay their rates.  In addition, responsibilities of councillors have increased in recent years and they are often expected to do more with less.  This puts a strain on the system and can lead to frustration and burnout.  Councillors often do a lot of important work, but they are often not paid .They only receive a small stipend.  This can be frustrating for those who are trying to make a difference in their communities.  The lack of equality is often seen as unfair, but it is important to know that MPs also have responsibilities, but one that needs to be addressed is to ensure that everyone involved in politics is fairly compensated for their work.  I thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER:  I am rising on a point of order Madam Speaker.  I have been following debates in this Parliament and I have noticed one anomaly.  Usually it is three that side and one this side, and mathematically that is very wrong.  It is supposed to be two that side and one this side.

THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Your concern has been noted, but I am deferring the ruling to next week Hon. Member. 

AN HON. MEMBER:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.

HON. S. SITHOLE:  Good afternoon Hon. Speaker Ma’am.  I rise to debate the motion raised by Hon. Jere, seconded by Hon. Nyamupinga on the marginalisation of councillors.  Madam Speaker, we could be busy debating about the councillors’ welfare, but I do not know if they are doing the same in their chambers or we are debating while they are quiet about it.  What I want to say is that the local government should review the Bill for the local authorities.  I will also include workers of local authorities as I debate on this issue.  There is no development at the district because from the moment they get employed, they stay in one local authority and they are never transferred.  That is why they lack the spirit to develop because they do not care, hence the Minister must review the Bill and pave way for people to be transferred to other local authorities.  He must revisit and check around the Bill.  I agree with some Hon. Members who already spoke before me, but sometimes I think they are the ones who marginalise themselves.  They have some beerhalls in the rural areas and all the Wards in towns, but they do not control or make a follow up with management to see where the revenue is going.  Some have farms that are being benefitted from, camp fires, but the councillors are not making follow up on how those revenues are being utilized.  Madam Speaker, I will just differ from some Hon. Members who debated because I want to say, when they are debating well, you can say that is good. When they have done wrong, you can say, here it is not proper. Madam Speaker, I agree with all who debated here. Councillors are supposed to get pensionable terms because some can stay for five terms. We can either say, let us pass for the five term to get a pension because some can stay for 15 years as a councillor but the benefit is to be an Alderman – just goes with the word Alderman.

I think when we come with those solutions to bring it in, either a five term or three terms and they go for pension than for them to benefit for a name called Alderman. I do not think Madam Speaker, it is a good thing. We must also encourage the councillors – the Hon. Speaker, Adv. J. F. Mudenda, once said inertia, even to ask Members of Parliament to debate about our welfare. I call upon all councillors to wake up and debate about their welfare. I want to thank His Excellency, the listening President, Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa.  I think some months back, he met the councillors at the Rainbow Towers. He promised them that they are going to engage in a good salary payroll. I rest my case Madam Speaker. I thank you.

HON. MAVHUNGA: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate on the marginalisation of councillors. It is an honor to participate. Allow me to thank Hon. Jere for putting this motion through to the House. It shows that Hon. Members are true servant leaders who do not forget where they come from and who they work with in their respective constituencies.  Madam Speaker, councillors are dedicated individuals who serve as the bedrock of local representation, tirelessly working for the betterment of our communities. They advocate for residents’ needs, navigate complex decisions and foster strong community bonds. However, ensuring their dedication is met with adequate support is crucial. I believe a thorough examination is essential to ensure fair and sustainable practices in local governance.

Madam Speaker, allow my debate to examine the critical role played by councillors, examine the current system of compensation, propose possible remuneration in line with the best international practices. Section 265 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe sets out the general …   

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. TSITSI ZHOU):   Order Hon. Mavhunga. Hon. Members on my left, can you please allow the Hon. Member to debate in silence. Thank you.

HON. MAVHUNGA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Section 265  of the Constitution of Zimbabwe sets out the general principles of Provincial and Local Government, including the obligation of councillors to ensure good governance by being effective, transparent, accountable and institutionally coherent, assume only functions conferred by the Constitution on Act of Parliament, exercise their functions without encroaching on the due restriction of other Government tiers, cooperate with one another for improved service delivery, secure the public welfare and ensure fair representation within their due restriction.

The District Councils Act and the Urban Councils Act further provide specific details regarding the composition, functions and powers of councillors as delegated by the Constitution, Section 276. These elected officials carry a significant responsibility representing the needs and interests of their constituents while actively contributing to the development and well-being of their local area. At the core of their duties lies representation. Councillors are the voice of the community, elected by the residents to champion their concerns and issues. They act as advocates, bringing local matters to the attention of the council and relevant authorities through various means like holding meetings, conducting surveys and participating in community events. They actively engage with residents to understand their needs and priorities. This ensures that their decisions made within council reflects the true concerns and aspirations of the community they serve.

Beyond representation, councillors play a pivotal role in policy and decision making. They actively participate in setting goals, formulating policies and making crucial decisions impacting their local area. Matters related to service delivery, infrastructure, development, budgeting and local regulations fall within their purview. This necessitates a deep understanding of local needs and the ability to make informed choices that promote the development and well-being of our communities. Additionally, councillors hold the council accountable for its performance ensuring efficient and transparent use of public resources.  

Madam Speaker, this important role that councillors have deserves to be conjunctional with a competitive remuneration so as to increase efficiency, improve accountability and productivity of these councils. Looking deeply, Madam Speaker, into their remuneration, the salary and wages of councillors are determined by the Minister responsible for Local Government. Their compensation comes in the form of allowances which are very low, to say the least, determined by variety of factors and ultimately approved by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

Madam Speaker, the absence of fixed salaries creates a situation where the level of allowances varies based on several factors. These include the type of council a councillor serves in, ranging from metropolitan cities to local boards and the specific position held with Mayors, Deputies and Committee Chairpersons receiving different amounts compared to the ordinary councillor. Additionally, geographic location may play a role with adjustments made to account for varying cost of living across different regions.

However, the current system faces challenges and concerns. The lack of transparency surrounding the specific allowance amounts coupled with the process for their determination, raises questions about fairness and accountability. This lack of clarity fuels about fairness, fuels concerns about potential inconsistences and create difficulty in verifying information readily available. Madam Speaker, recent developments highlight the ongoing debate surrounding councillor remunerations. Associations like the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe and the Association of Rural District Councils of Zimbabwe, have advocated for a shift towards monthly salaries for councillors similar to other elected officials like MPs, Ministers and so forth. This proposition urges that such a change would improve the living conditions of councillors and attract more qualified individuals to serve in these positions.

Madam Speaker, we can take a leaf from our neighbours legislative pages particularly in neighbouring South Africa, governed by our sister Revolutionary Party, African National Congress (ANC). Councillors have a fixed monthly salary depending on whether they are permanent or temporary. For example, a Mayor in South Africa can take home about R300 thousand annually, depending on the grade. They have housing allowances, travelling allowances, cellphone allowances, health insurance, pension options and so forth.  They have enough benefits to effectively execute their duties so much that contesting as a councillor in Mzansi has become very dangerous with some candidates being murdered in cold blood during campaigns.

Members of Parliament are left with no choice but to support our councillors with our own resources to help them deliver in their Wards and ultimately in the constituencies that we represent.  A personal example, my father is a councillor in one of the rural district councils.  They did not get enough resources to effectively and efficiently do their work.  Currently, Hon. Speaker, councillors are expected to develop a master plan for their wards.   The work required for a Ward master plan is very intensive and time consuming to undertake this work under a strict deadline.  A council is only armed with cell airtime allowance up to ZWL115 000.  No transport, no fuel, no food, no student attachés to their disposal.  It becomes a mammoth task and very strenuous on their personal resources.  While the previous section explores the interests of councillor remuneration in Zimbabwe, a critical issue remains; the potential for this system to contribute to corruption. While not implying that all councillors engage in such practices, it is important to understand how the current structure creates vulnerabilities, and increases corruption.  It is also important to note that though not much research is available out there to make factual conclusions if there is any relationship between compensation and levels of corruption, we need to encourage our research institution to do more research concerning this. 

          Madam Speaker, to drive the point home, one primary concern lies in the absence of fixed salaries.  Councillors rely on variable allowances living them financially insecure.  This vulnerability can make them susceptible to seeking alternative income source, potentially leading them down unethical paths.   Additionally, the pack nature of the allowance system with lack of transparency surrounding specific amounts and the decision-making process creates fertile ground for potential abuse.  The lack of clarity fuels concerns about favouritism, misappropriation of funds and difficulty in holding officials accountable. 

Furthermore, the inadequate oversight mechanisms exacerbate the situation.  Without robust public scrutiny and clear accountability structures, potential misconduct can go unchecked.  This lack of oversight incentivises individuals to prioritise personal gain over the well-being of the community they represent, potentially resorting to practices like accepting bribes or engaging in rent seeking activities.  Moreover, the current system can create scenarios where conflicts of interest arise.  Councillors’ decision making power can be influenced by financial consideration, blowing the line between their responsibility to the community and their personal financial interests.  This creates a breeding ground for unethical conduct and undermines public trust in local governance. 

Madam Speaker, it is important to reiterate that these are potential risks, not all councillors succumb to such pressures and many serve with integrity and dedication.  However, addressing the vulnerabilities within the system is crucial to minimise these risks and foster ethical conduct.     As I conclude Madam Speaker, I would like to share my opinion on how councillors can be appreciated to enhance their effectiveness in service distribution and fairly representing the people in their respective wards. 

Firstly, transitioning to a transparent and consistent salary structure for councillors could alleviate financial insecurity and disincentivise   unethical behaviour.  Secondly, establishing an independent board to monitor and audit the remuneration process and overall financial management of the council is crucial. Lastly, providing logistical support for councillors to improve efficiency in form of vehicles or motorbikes. 

In conclusion, implementing these strategies may pave the way for a more sustainable and ethical local governance system in Zimbabwe by securing the well-being of councillors through improved transparency, development opportunities and public engagement.  The nation can empower its local leaders to serve their communities with dedication and integrity.  This in turn can lead to a more prosperous and well governed future for all citizens.   Thank you Madam Speaker. 

+HON. M. NDEBELE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice.  Good afternoon Hon. Speaker.  I was once a councillor for 15 years, from 2008 to August, 2023.  I know this path.  Allow me to add my voice on what I once came across during my years of serving as a councillor.  During elections, the councillor is the one who campaigns for the President and the Member of Parliament.  The councillor is the foot soldier.  After the elections, the councillor is thrown away and others get more resources forgetting the councillor.  This is so disturbing.  However, let me say after the councillor has done the job and after the elections, he is only given an allowance not a salary.  The amount was 115 000 RTGs.  There was also what was called phone allowance.  The phone allowance was even lower than this amount. 

The councillor is someone who is asked to roast the meat and he only enjoys the scent of the meat, but will not enjoy the meat.  This then leads councillors to be corrupt because they will be teased with nice things.  For the councillor not to be corrupt, the councillors are supposed to be remunerated such that they do not engage into corrupt activities.  The money is not enough to pay schools fees for the kids and to cover other expenses.  For example, if the councillor is given a little opportunity, he or she will end up being corrupt because of not being catered for.  We are putting our councillors in a precarious position that they end up being in temptation. If the councillor is being accused of corruption, it is because the Government will have put him in that position. We are not considering these councillors. My plea is that the councillor should be given enough money to send his children to school and take care of his family. Councillors need transport to ferry them to and from their places of work. There are no sitting allowances in the councils. The money that is given to the councillor is only that he gets transport to attend meetings at councils and goes back to his home after the meeting. Councillors are burdened with a lot of work. I pray that may the councillors be given a salary and not an allowance.

          +HON. R. MPOFU: I will just add a few words to this motion because I have a sore throat and therefore, not feeling well today. Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to thank the mover of this motion who is Hon. Jere, seconded by Hon. Nyamupinga. The issue of councillors is very painful. When the other Hon. Members were seconding this motion, I felt excited a lot even though I cannot see. The issue of councillors has spent years and years, but I think Government has taken note that even these people must be recognised.

          As Members of Parliament, we are representatives of the people who play an oversight role on the Ministers especially on utilisation of resources. I support the motion that our councillors are supposed to get a salary which can sustain their families as they are hard workers. They live with the people in the wards. Some of the wards are very big and at times councillors traverse these wards on foot. I do not want to differentiate councillors by their political parties, but I just want a councillor to be considered as a councillor.  I really wish that Government looks at this issue of councillors. Even the councillors selected under the women’s quota must be assisted because they are councillors too. They need to get something that is at par with other councillors. Some of the councillors have many children at home who need food. For us women, we know that when a husband leaves home, he will come back carrying some food for the children. As for them, they go from morning to evening without anything because that is what their job demands. I wish that we could even get motorbikes or better still, those that can ride bicycles can……

          Proceedings were interrupted due to a technical fault.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. TSITSI ZHOU):  I hope that all of you can hear me.  We have a technical fault and therefore, we cannot proceed with debates.

          HON. KAMBUZUMA:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. HAMAUSWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 13th March, 2024.

          On the motion of HON. KAMBUZUMA seconded by HON. HAMAUSWA, the House adjourned at Four o’clock p.m.

 

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