By Brenna Matendere

THE Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (Ucaz) has reportedly struck a deal with government which would see councillors from the country’s 32 urban centres pocketing at least
$1 000 in monthly allowances.

The latest development is likely to trigger more demands for salary reviews by ordinary workers at city councils where councillors are policymakers.

The opposition MDC Alliance controls 28 out of 32 urban councils.

Ucaz president Josiah Makombe yesterday told NewsDay Weekender in a telephone interview from Germany, where he is on official business, that councillors starting last month were now entitled to a sitting allowance equivalent to 50% of Members of Parliament’s basic salary.

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Councillors, according to the Urban Councils Act, are not entitled to salaries, but allowances only.

Before the latest adjustment, which will see them pocketing about $1 000, councillors were earning a measly monthly allowance of $300.

MPs get about $2 000 basic salary monthly before factoring in sitting allowances.

“As Ucaz, we have been negotiating with (Local Government) minister July Moyo to review the allowances of councillors. I am happy to say that we have been heard and we are grateful to minister Moyo for understanding us,” said Makombe, who is also Gweru mayor.

“We now have a formula or standard of allowances for councillors. Going forward, we will not negotiate for the review of the allowances, but simply stick to the formula where councillors will get 50% of what the MPs will be earning in salaries monthly.”

He said as for councillors with more responsibilities such as committee chairpersons, deputy mayors or mayors, there would be more money for them based on the discretion of their local authorities.

“This development has never happened since independence in 1980. I can, therefore, say this is one of my achievements as president of Ucaz. I have somehow brought dignity to the office of a councillor,” Makombe said.

Last year, councillors, led by the then Harare mayor and Ucaz president Bernard Manyenyeni, engaged Moyo to review their earnings to levels of MPs, saying “their demands were justified in expecting that those who come through democratic processes should be treated along identical principles perhaps varying in the quantum on the major conditions of service”.

Both Moyo and his deputy Marian Chombo could not be reached for comment yesterday.