Bulawayo councillors seek to determine own allowances

Source: Bulawayo councillors seek to determine own allowances | Sunday News (local news)

Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
BULAWAYO City Councillors are pushing to determine their own levels of allowances, ignoring those determined by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and the Public Service Commission.

Bulawayo City Council

The levels of monthly allowances and travel and subsistence allowances are determined by ministerial circulars, a move that was derived after it was noted that some councils were awarding each other unsubstantiated allowances.

However, councillors in Bulawayo have questioned why they have to rely on the Government to determine these allowances instead of determining their own allowances via a council resolution.

This came out during a debate relating to the new structure to be followed relating to travel and subsistence allowances.

According to a council report, Government has since determined the rates for proved (accounted for) and unproved (unaccounted for).

For accountable allowances (proved) where one has to produce receipts upon return, bed and breakfast will be a hotel rate applicable at the time.

For unproved (no receipts required), bed and break fast allowances will be US$75 per day.

And when secured separately, breakfast will be US$15 and lunch US$20 and dinner US$25.

“A member should produce proof of expenses incurred on return to the home station and monies unaccounted for should be returned at the end of the month when the trip is made.

Any excess on proved expenses shall be met by the member themselves for their own resources.

Unproved supplementary allowance shall be US$20 per day.

Public Service Commission

Heads of departments and accounting officers are reminded to approve critical trips only, consider the size of the delegation and duration of the trip,” reads a circular from the Public Service Commission to determine the allowances payable to the councillors.

With the circular having only been deliberated by councillors at the beginning of June, despite it being dated December 2021, it was noted that councillors that travelled from January will have their allowances backdated.

“In the event that the circular was adopted by council, the councillors who would have travelled from January 2022 to date would be paid the difference using the rate of the period which they travelled,” reads the report.

However, in debating the allowances structure councillors felt there was a need for them to come up with their own allowances through a council resolution.

“Councillor Tawanda Ruzive was of the view that council should have its own resolution which catered for councillors instead of using the circular from the Public Service Commission.

His Worship the mayor, Clr Solomon Mguni sought clarity on why councillors used the Public Service circular when they were not civil servants.

“In response, the city legal officer, Mrs Spekiwa Guta explained that council had initially had a resolution which provided for travel and subsistence allowances for councillors.

Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing

The resolution was abandoned after the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works issued a circular indicating how much councillors got when they travelled,” reads the report.

Mrs Guta further advised that it was important to look into the reasons why council migrated from the council resolution to the Public Service Commission circular.