Innocent Ruwende in Bulawayo
Government is increasing allowances for councillors and mayors as it seeks to eradicate corruption in most local authorities. The highest paid councillor in all local authorities pockets $477, the lowest takes home $80 a month while Members of Parliament take home more than $1 900. Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, however, warned councillors and local authorities to desist from corruption saying they would be prosecuted if they are caught on the wrong side of the law.
Minister Kasukuwere was speaking during a Christmas party he hosted for delegates who are attended the Local Government Economic Forum which ended here yesterday. “I understand you are not being paid reasonable allowances. We have had a meeting with the Urban Council Association of Zimbabwe and they have intimated their challenges which we are addressing.
“We will increase your allowances but you will have to stop the unnecessary workshops which you were carrying out so that you could raise money at the expense of service delivery,” he said.
In August Minister Kasukuwere suspended Gweru mayor, Hamutendi Kombayi, his deputy and 14 other councillors on allegations of gross misconduct and mismanagement of council funds and affairs.
Presenting on trade and investment opportunities which exist for local authorities Zimbabwe Investment Authority chairperson Mr Nigel Chanakira said the country was receiving more business proposals especially with the plummeting of the rand.
“We have received business applications worth $3,2 billion this year and we are aiming for more. The rand situation has seen South Africans wanting to invest in Zimbabwe because we use US dollars.
“We have received over 90 delegations of foreign countries. China, South Africa and Mauritius have the biggest number of investors,” he said. He said the decision to cut off debts by Government in 2013 was a biggest mistake because it made local authorities a high risk for investment.
“We need Government to say it will never do that again.” Harare City Council acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube said local authorities should deal with corruption and bad governance because they impact on how councils use resources.
“We are in an environment where there is a liquidity challenge. Councils are not managing to collect what they are billing residents and at the same time stakeholders, even those who are not paying, are demanding good services.
“There is need for innovation so that we can put the few resources into good use. We are in a competitive sector, and it has become apparent that in terms of investment we are competing with other cities from other countries,” she said.