THE role of councillors to national development cannot be over-emphasised. A councillor represents the interests of residents and taxpayers at the grassroots level.
This role requires a councillor to provide community leadership and guidance and facilitate communication between the community and the council. It is therefore expected that councillors would conduct themselves in such a manner that is expected of individuals of high integrity.
Furthermore, having elected councillors ensures the promotion of democracy in the country and that it does not veer off to democratic purgatory.
But that can only be possible when and where there are responsible people in the councils keen on serving voters as opposed to parochial interests. It is unfortunate to note that many councillors have time and again been accused of being interested in sitting allowances and using their position of privilege to award themselves lucrative contracts.
The sentiments were made by President Jakaya Kikwete on what he described as lazy councillors bent on seeking personal gains instead of eradicating poverty among the populace.
President Kikwete also noted that a leader's success and capability can be gauged by how he or she strives to ensure that the people's welfare improves by being innovative. We concur with the president.
It defeats the purpose having people in office who are driven by self-serving interests. Such individuals are more often than not spineless and prone to not only corrupt tendencies but also unable to defend the needs of their electorates.
There is a need to ensure that a code of conduct for councillors is in place and enforced to ensure that if a councillor has a private interest in a matter before the council or a committee, the councillor should declare the interest and leave the meeting while the matter is debated and voted upon.
Breach of the conflict of interest provisions should attract severe punishment including huge fines and/or disqualification as a member of the council.
An effective code of conduct for councillors will dissuade those with ulterior motives from seeking election as councillors. It would be a starting point to get rid of lazy councillors who can easily be bought.