Councillors have enquired with the Botswana Association of Local Authorities (BALA) to demand answers on the day and month in which Parliament decided to withdraw the commitment of the six percent salary increase.
The councillors want to know why their salary increment was diverted, while Members of Parliament received theirs. BALA is expected to have responded to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Eric Molale’s letter.
On May 26, 2021, the minister responded to the councillors’ petition. Molale stated that the councillors’ salary increment has been set aside. Instead, the funds were used in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Molale pointed out that alongside the pandemic issue, the government had taken a decision to de-link politicians’ salaries from those of civil servants. “This decision was made public. A Bill in that regard was drafted, which was then presented to Parliament but later withdrawn during the 2021-2022 budget session. His Excellency had before the presentation of the Bill met with the BALA executive and intimated to them that this promised increment was not going to materialise, not just because of de-linking but also because the budget priorities had changed and that the situation was bleak,” Molale said. “As a result, he informed the BALA executive that the promised adjustment would not be paid. The assumption was that the BALA executive would pass on the message to Honourable councillors as is the norm. Money was set aside to fight the pandemic, through the procurement of test kits, antigens, thermometers, protective clothing and equipment, ventilators and of late, vaccines. Money was set aside to assist those who were about to
The letter stated that all these and many more decisions were taken to cushion the effects of the economic crash that came about as a consequence of the pandemic. It added that under the circumstances, councillors could not be classified as those in this precarious situation. In addition, the minister said councillors were part of government and therefore in leadership. He said in times like these, leaders must put aside some wishes and interests and focus on assisting their electorate to help them steer the path out of distress and inconveniences caused by such.
He requested councillors to agree with the position taken by Parliament as it was best for the electorate and the whole nation. He added councillors’ salaries were reviewed in 2018 and increased by up to 24%. Molale further pointed out that all sources of government funding have literally dried up leading to withholding and or placing in abeyance some key national projects. BALA president, Jeffery Sibisibi confirmed that they have received the correspondence from the Ministry of Local Government and councillors would give them direction.
“I cannot say much on the matter. We have received the correspondence in few days, therefore, it is important that we understand the details of the letter,” he said.