Consultation Is Key

Councillors from different political parties petitioned the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development on the six percent salary increase, which was approved and presented in the budget speech sometime last year that they are yet to receive.

Looking at the petition, it appears the councillors have not received their increment as yet, nor have they been given an explanation as to why the government has not honoured its commitment to councillors.

"...6. Your office must take cognisance that it has been one year and one month without receiving these funds. 10. This letter serves to request your office to clarify as to when your office is intending to pay councillors outstanding the six percent increment and back pays" are some of the points raised by councillors in their petition.

If the points raised in the petition are anything to go by, it sure looks like, councillors have indeed been denied their dues without any form of communication or consultation. Rumour has it that the money that was secured for the councillors' six percent increment was diverted to pay Scorpions in different councils. While we are not necessarily saying the move was wrong, if indeed the money was diverted, then the relevant should have consulted the councillors about the intention to divert the money budgeted for their increment. Councillors are an important part of our political system and they play a major role in the development of their respective wards. They are the true soldiers as they are the ones who spend most of their time in their wards/areas and know the challenges faced by their communities better than most. Councillors deserve to be treated with respect, and not have some people making decisions for them in the comfort of their offices without engaging them. From the petition, it certainly appears, councillors have up to now not been given any idea as to why their increment was delayed or even why their money was diverted to other uses without their consent.

Why would something like that happen? The expectation is that councillors should have been approached and consulted on the increment delay, and be given a clear explanation as to why, and an agreement between the two parties should have entered into as to when the increment would materialise, and on how the back payments would be done. Councillors are definitely in the right to demand answers from the ministry. Had councillors been consulted in the first place, none of this would have taken place. The government needs to make consultation an integral part of the system because taking unilateral decisions without the input of stakeholders and the communities that are directly affected will ultimately cause friction.

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