WHAT could be more embarrassing to the council bigwigs countrywide than the threat made by Zambia United Local Authorities Workers Union (ZULAWU) president Kingsley Zulu at a joint press briefing with Fire Services Union of Zambia (FSUZ) about council workers having given Government a 7-day ultimatum in which to pay their two months’ salary arrears, failure to which the countrywide sit-in would start? (“We’ll protest, warn council workers”, Daily Nation, January 12, 2019).
This threat implies the council bigwigs’ incompetence and imprudence in the use of the Equalisation Fund that Government gives them monthly because there is a rule that 20 percent of the fund must be invested in capital projects, but not all the councils are honouring this condition. It is disappointing to observe that most councils are using the whole amount of the Equalisation Fund on emoluments. It would be prudent to have 20 percent go to developmental projects like boreholes, market structures, filling stations and fee-paying toilets, door-to-door fee-paying garbage collection and disposal, rent-to-own housing projects for council workers and civil servants in partnership with local and foreign investors, provision of local and long-distance bus services, among others.
With so many suggested projects, the council bigwigs must begin to be innovative and start thinking outside the box and embark on sustainable projects. It is high time they stopped depending on Government to finance all their activities due to the “Boma iyanganepo” dependency syndrome. To be honest, above else, the councils have unnecessarily burdened the central government with supporting their employees countrywide.
Little do ZULAWU and FSUZ presidents realise that the Equalisation Fund is five percent of the income tax returns for each council and this amount increases annually as the tax base for each council increases. It is therefore imperative that council bigwigs should curtail all bureaucracy, red tape and inertia in the implementation of sustainable revenue generating projects with strict timelines for project implementation to expand their tax base.