A proposal that would have seen elected local authority councillors pocket significant increases in allowances, has been given short shrift by government. Urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni is adamant that the proposal by the Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (ALAN) president Katrina Shimbulu will not be entertained.
He said the country’s economy, having been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, is still recovering. Uutoni made these remarks last week after a follow-up enquiry was made about the proposal.
The City of Windhoek this week came under heavy criticism as it decided to burden already under-pressure residents with tariff increases as the council’s expenses, including a N$1.5 billion wage bill, continue to put pressure on its limited resources. In its approved budget, the city states that mayor Job Amupanda will this year receive N$849 539, deputy mayor Clemencia Hanases will receive N$797 699, while the chairman of the management committee will receive N$745 859.
Shimbulu had proposed to the government to consider approving a 50% pay hike for local authority councillors as part of their monthly allowances. However, Uutoni said that will not be possible. “It will not be fair to everyone, especially now that there are those who lost their jobs due to Covid-19, and you are increasing allowances for councillors. It will not be fair at all. Therefore, we must just do with the little we have,” he stressed.
In response to concerns from local authorities regarding the conditions of service of councillors, the ministry in February 2021 requested ALAN, as the umbrella body representing all local authority councils in Namibia, to assist in collating the concerns and inputs on the subject matter, and present such to the minister for consideration. The association undertook to revert to the ministry in April 2021.
“While the government, through the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, is open to listening to the concerns of affected parties such as the subject matter, the portfolio minister will take into account the public interest and the prevailing economic situation in the country,” said executive director Nghidinwa Daniel then.
Shimbulu earlier said the councillors are getting peanuts, considering the significant role they play in developing their towns.
“Local authorities are the sphere of government closest to the people. The notion of a developmental local government, therefore, is important in guiding and ensuring a system that is committed to working with communities to meet their social, economic and material needs sustainably, and improving the quality of their lives,” she explained in the proposal also seen by New Era.
According to ALAN’s recommendation, a mayor of a tier two municipality who currently earns N$88 910 should qualify for a proposed annual allowance of N$133 365, while a deputy mayor should get N$121 933, compared to the current yearly allowance of N$81 289.
ALAN also recommended a yearly allowance of N$125 742 for chairpersons of management committees, and N$114 313 for ordinary council members.
For town councils, ALAN recommended N$116 250 for a mayor, N$104 626 for a deputy mayor and N$108 499 in annual allowances for management committee chairpersons.
The association also wanted ordinary councillors serving on town councils to receive a yearly allowance of N$96 876, instead of the current N$64 584.