Dy­ing to be a coun­cil­lor

CityPress - - News -

The des­per­ate fights across the coun­try to be­come coun­cil­lors have pre­cip­i­tated the ques­tion: why?

Why are peo­ple go­ing to th­ese lengths to se­cure th­ese po­si­tions?

The an­swer, in a coun­try with a high un­em­ploy­ment rate, lies in a guar­an­teed salary, perks, and power and in­flu­ence.

Even in the coun­try’s poor­est mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, be­ing an or­di­nary or part-time mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lor is a quick ticket to a five-fig­ure monthly salary, and be­com­ing part of the lo­cal elite. The perks for both full-time and part­time coun­cil­lors in­clude travel ex­penses, ve­hi­cle run­ning and main­te­nance al­lowances, cell­phone ex­penses, hous­ing al­lowances and out-of-pocket ex­penses.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties also take out a spe­cial risk cover on coun­cil­lors’ prop­er­ties from ri­ots, civil un­rest, strikes or pub­lic dis­or­der – fixed prop­erty lim­ited to R1.5 mil­lion and ve­hi­cle cover to R750 000. Coun­cil­lors get life and dis­abil­ity cover lim­ited to dou­ble their re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­age. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity also pro­vides al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion for a re­view­able 30-day pe­riod in cases where prop­erty is dam­aged.

Last De­cem­ber, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma ap­proved in­creases for mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lors, for which they were ex­pected to re­ceive back­pay dat­ing to July last year. Some call it a “bonus”.

- Setumo Stone

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