COUNCILLORS deserve to be paid salaries and it is unreasonable for Government to continue to insist that the civic leaders should only be entitled to a meagre allowance when they do a lot of work in the communities they serve, Chishimba Kambwili has declared.
Mr Kambwili, the former Information and Broadcasting Services minister, said councillors were the “immediate eye contact and representatives” of the people and it was unacceptable for Government to condemn the civic leaders to a K700 allowance.
Mr Kambwili said in an interview yesterday that councillors were doing a lot of work in their communities as they were the first point of contact for the central government and should therefore be considered for salaries and not “mocking” allowances.
He said the current K700 monthly allowance was an insult to councilors whose public service could not be compared to Members of Parliament.
Mr Kambwili said he was aware that Government was going to be hurt with his support for councillors in their demands for salaries but that he was now a back bencher in Parliament and was not bound by collective responsibility.
Mr Kambwili said it was demotivating to councillors to be subjected to a K700 allowance when mayors were being paid a monthly salary of up to K19,000 yet both officers were civic leaders.
“For me in Roan constituency, I want the councillors to start getting salaries and I would also want to speak on behalf of all the councilors across the country. This debate of our councillors being entitled to a K700 monthly allowance must come to an end. Councillors and mayors are civic leaders and in fact the councillors do more work in the communities they live but they are subjected to a mocking K700 while the mayors are earning K19,000. It is unreasonable that Government should continue on this path but should quickly address this matter,” Mr Kambwili said.
The Roan lawmaker however advised councillors across the country against threatening Government to withdrawing their services because an antagonistic stance was not going to be a solution for their demands.
He said he would remain a strong advocate of introducing salaries for councillors because the country would only be able to get the best civic leaders if there was something attractive in being a civic leader rather than just service to the people.
“With the current amended Constitution, if you want to be councilor, you have to resign your position if you are a teacher or nurse. This means that you have to forfeit your good salary as a teacher or nurse to stand as a councilor and only to receive K700 as an allowance. That is not attractive and that is why we end up with mediocre councillors,” Mr Kambwili said.
Mr Kambwili has also demanded the immediate opening of Baluba Mine in Luanshya which was shut down now that the copper prices on the world metal market had soared to more than US$5000.
Mr Kambwili said the owners of Baluba Mine, Luanshya Copper Mine, had no reason to keep the mine shut because the world copper prices had tremendously improved.
“Baluba Mine must be opened immediately without delay and all the miners who were sent on recess should be called back to start work,” Mr Kambwili said.