RURAL district councillors have called on government to review their allowances upwards, saying they deserved better remuneration since they were the main drivers of rural development.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
The councillors said they handled public administration from grassroots level.
“We are appealing to the government to look at the welfare of councillors. We are leaders in our own right and bear the hard work of bringing development. We are the link between the people and the legislature, apart from numerous other development agents,” Bulilima Rural District Council chairman Mafesi Ncube said.
Ncube, who is the Matabeleland South cluster chairperson of the Association of Rural District Councils, was speaking at a ceremony where six Beitbridge councillors were conferred with alderman status.
Cllrs Enoch Ndou, Ketsina Moyo, Joseph Itani Muleya, Luke Costa Ndou, Gladys Tlou and Robert Park served their wards seamlessly for more than 10 years. The status was bestowed at a colourful function.
It is the first known time such status has been awarded to rural councillors, which Ncube said was a sign of their good work service.
“This is a job we do with little allowances, but we build the senators, members of Parliament. No government can operate without us,” Ncube said, heaping praises on his colleagues.
“Their work saw Beitbridge become a town and today a municipality apart from other rural achievements,” said Ncube, who renewed a call for a review of the councillors’ perks done earlier this year.
According to the Councils’ Act, councillors can only be paid allowances as approved by the Local Government minister.
The councils can only pay pension and other allowances under very special circumstances, reads the Act.
“If a municipal council considers that there are special circumstances which warrant the payment of a pension or allowance to a person who has attained the age of 60 years and has held office as a councillor on that council for a period of, or periods in the aggregate which amount to, 20 years or more, that council may apply to the minister for authority to pay such pension or allowance,” reads an extract of the Act.
Guest speaker, Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs minister Abednico Ncube, urged councillors to champion rural people’s rights.
“Work closely with the rural people and be innovative to uplift the lives of the communities you work with,” Ncube said.
He said local authorities should create an enabling environment for investors and embrace the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra to create opportunities for their people.
He asked councillors to open opportunities in the two Trans Frontier Parks — Gonarezhou and Kaza in Victoria Falls.
Ncube asked rural district councils to go into public-private-partnership with investors and improve road networks.
“You must also ensure the water and sanitation projects in your regions are successful to uplift the lives of villagers.
In view of dwindling financial resources, Ncube asked local authorities to embrace technology to improve service.
Beitbridge District administrator Kilibone Ndou said the six councillors were part of a vibrant team that has made milestones in service delivery.