Councillors elected to local councils in the May 20 Tripartite Elections are demanding a 150 percent hike in their honorarium, The Nation has learnt.
If they succeed in getting government approval, the councillors would be getting a minimum of K200 000 (US$200) per month from the current K80 000 (US$160).
Mzuzu City mayor William Mkandawire, who is also Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) second vice-president, confirmed in an interview that councillors want an increase in the honorarium. He, however, said there are variations.
But Mkandawire said for Mzuzu City, the minimum they are asking is K200 000.
He said the councillors are puzzled that government is not meeting their demands despite the fact that the concerns were raised in June before the national budget was passed.
He said the current “low honorarium” is not attractive enough to have competent and dedicated people in the positions, adding that government worked out the conditions of service without consulting councillors.
He said there is need to revise the conditions as they are affecting their lives.
Said Mkandawire: “You can see that the cost of living has risen. Prices for different commodities are increasing. So, for councillors to live on the K80 000 they are given as honorarium, I don’t think it is on.”
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho on Saturday confirmed that her ministry received concerns from local councils across the country. She said there is need to harmonise the concerns.
She also said the ministry is in discussions with the Malga regarding the welfare of councillors and resolutions made will be relayed through the association.
However, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya said government does not have the capacity to accommodate any honorarium increment because the 2014/15 National Budget does not have a provision for increased councillors’ honorarium.
He said: “There are no funds to have the honorarium increased and looking at the current state of the economy, it cannot absorb further increase for the honorarium.”
According to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chief elections officer Willie Kalonga, there are two vacant wards, but the positions are expected to be filled to have the number of councillors at 462.
Meeting the councillors’ demands would increase the councillors’ allocation in terms of honorarium from K36.9 million to K92.4 million per month.