Govt loses M60 million to idle councillors

Local Government Minister Habofanoe Lehana

Local Government Minister Habofanoe Lehana

BONGIWE ZIHLANGU

 

MASERU – At least M60 million maloti is being shelled out annually to district councillors for attending non-productive meetings as both legislative and executive functions are the preserve of central government.

This means the 1422 councilors elected in last year’s local government polls and who take home M3500 each per month, would have gobbled up to M300 million collectively when their term ends in 2022.

The councillors’ combined perks are enough to pay all civil servants’ salaries for a month.

Local Government Minister Habofanoe Lehana this week admitted rural councillors were “being paid for doing nothing”, adding government was moving with speed to empower the rural authorities by ceding some core governmental functions to the districts.

To end the scandal, government would escalate giving force of law to the 2014 Local Government Policy that would introduce mayors with executive powers to direct policy formulation and implementation.

This will also give councillors legislative powers to enact by-laws although these should be congruent with national laws, thus influencing local policies and development.

“Elected at the 2022 local government elections will be Executive Mayors, who will be like ministers at district level, with their own small cabinets with whom to make decisions for their localities,” Lehana said.

“The Executive Mayor would also be supported with highly skilled personnel, vehicles, state of the art office equipment, etc., all of which will cost government a lot of money to accomplish. Councils under the Local Government Policy, 2014, will become assemblies with speakers and deputy-speakers.”

Once the Local Government Policy, 2014 becomes operative, Lehana noted that all control over the use of funds and delivery of services will be completely decentralised in all government departments.

“When M100 000 000 is allocated to a district during the annual budget, that will be where the central government ends. From there it will be the responsibility of the district to allocate the money to councils, without interference of the central government,” Lehana said.

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