Dying to be a councillor
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