Attempts by politicians to please chiefs for reasons best known to them are now coming at a huge cost as government spends over K1 billion per year on 28 341 chiefs on its payroll, Nation on Sunday has learnt.
According to information from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, government spends K85 519 500 per month on chiefs’ honoraria, which translates to K1 026 234 000 per year.
The annual spending on chiefs honoraria is about 20 percent of the ministry’s annual budget because the ministry got K5 312 745 732 in the 2015/16 financial year, according to information from the ministry.
The amount per month, according to the ministry’s spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho, changes from time to time since the list of chiefs is still being updated.
Human rights activist, Gift Trapence of Centre for Development of People (Cedep), has described the expenditure on the chiefs as a waste, arguing that, that money can be put to better use.
Trapence said even if that money was channelled into the health sector, it could make a big difference.
Ironically, the number chiefs on government payroll is more than twice that of secondary school teachers in the country as the Ministry of Education has 10 895 secondary school teachers and 68 000 teachers in primary schools, according to the ministry’s spokesperson, Manfred Ndovi.
Trapence said governments—present and past—have put chiefs on government’s payroll for political reasons.
“Political parties have a belief that chiefs can campaign for them and, in fact, in some cases, chiefs do that to endear themselves with ruling parties,” said Trapence.