Some ward councillors have demanded an immediate 200 percent increase in their monthly honoraria and allowances, warning that they will hold protests if their demands are ignored.
But Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho, while acknowledging receipt of the demands through Malawi Local Government Association (Malga), in an interview on Sunday described the grouping pushing for the raise in perks as illegal.
The group, calling itself ‘Malawi Concerned Councillors’, is demanding that their monthly honoraria should be increased from K100 000 to K350 000 each, translating to K161 million for 462 councillors.
Besides the monthly honoraria, the councillors also want fuel allowance raised from K40 000 to K150 000 per month to ease their mobility in their respective wards.
The concerned councillors also want their motorcycle loans increased from K1.5 million to K5.2 million to enable them buy durable motorcycles to take them through a five-year term.
The councillors are also asking for K30 000 monthly airtime, K50 000 ward allowance and that each of them should be on a K60 000 medical scheme.
In an interview yesterday, the group’s leader Alexander Cosmas said they arrived at the decision, considering that members of Parliament (MP) are well remunerated.
He said: “Malawians vote for councillors, MPs and President through the ballot. Surprisingly, we are the only elected officers whose working conditions are pathetic and yet our responsibility is too huge and very involving…
“We are not saying we should be at the same level with them, but all what we are advocating for is a consideration.
“We are ready to partner with various stakeholders like HRDC [Human Rights Defenders Coalition] and others so that our work conditions are improved. We must state here that all is set for us to hold national demonstrations if we are not attended to.”
In 2018, government adjusted upwards councillors honoraria from K80 000 to K100 000.
However, according to Cosmas, the raise was not enough to cater for the motor cycle loan recovery, considering the current market value of durable motorcycles.
While not giving a specific time frame for implementation of their demands, the councillors said they would appreciate it if President Peter Mutharika considered them in January 2020 as he pardons prisoners as part of Christmas and New Year’s Day festivities.
But while acknowledging getting the complaints through Malga, Mughogho could not be drawn to comment on what government is doing to address the issues raised.
She said the group is illegal.
Said Mughogho: “All the concerns made were already presented to government through Malga which is their legal and recognised body. The said organisation is a faction and an illegal setup.”
Malga president Wild Ndipo said the association would give its position after receiving an official complaint from the concerned councillors.
He said: “We are hoping they shall come forth. Then allow me to comment after that.”
In a circular dated December 4 2018, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development announced implementation of an upward adjustment in councillors’ allowances from K80 000 to K100 000 backdated to July 1. The increase represented 25 percent.
The last approval was made on the understanding that each council would contribute 20 percent of its locally generated revenues towards the councillors’ pay while the balance is covered from the General Resource Fund.
In January this year, councillors through Malga pushed for a 193 percent increase in their remuneration and benefits.