Sunday, August 03, 2008
Levy opposed Cabinet pay increment – Sata
By Patson Chilemba Saturday August 02, 2008 [04:00]
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday said President Levy Mwanawasa opposed salary and allowance
increments for constitutional office holders and senior government officials last April. Commenting on Cabinet’s approval of the salary and allowance increments, Sata said President Mwanawasa did not want the increments to be implemented “That budget, those salary increments, were approved in March.
But Levy did not want them to be implemented because they were too high. He realised the difficulties which we were going to have about fuel, difficulties about food and then the problem of K400 billion for the Muzorewa National Constitutional Conference NCC,” Sata said.
“Levy did not want to implement that and I challenge anyone of them to challenge me. He didn’t approve it. They should have got it on the 1st of April but he did not approve, that’s why they did not get it.” Sata said it was immoral for Cabinet
to approve such hefty allowances while President Mwanawasa was ill in hospital. “It is very immoral, very, very immoral for Rupiah Banda Vice-President and his colleagues to be so greedy that they don’t care about their colleague who is in hospital. They are just using him because they want to empower their handbags, they want to empower their purses and their pockets,” he said. Sata described the hefty allowances as the worst plunder.
He said Cabinet ministers wanted to amass as much wealth as they could in the absence of President Mwanawasa. “By the time Levy comes, there will be nothing left with this reckless government. They even have the guts. Even when they take to Parliament, who is going to sign for that appropriation bill? You mean they have already given Rupiah the power to sign?” Sata asked. He noted that salary increments should be commensurate to performance but that there was nothing Cabinet ministers had done to deserve an upward adjustment to their remuneration. Sata said Zambian taxpayers should not be made to pay for an inefficient government.
He said most Zambian leaders lacked the spirit of sacrifice and loyalty to the people. Sata said it was difficult to understand how Cabinet could allocate itself hefty allowances when strategic institutions like the University of Zambia (UNZA) and hospitals were inperpetual problems. “And what type of a Cabinet is this? Yesterday, we were told by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) that inflation has gone to 12.6 per cent.
They are adding more inflation because the money they are releasing is for consumption,” Sata said. “And when it suits them, they lie, ‘we can’t do anything because the
President is not here’… like Professor Lungwangwa Geoffrey, education minister has been lying at university. They can’t pay the money because the President is not here. Now the President is not here, how are they giving themselves that hefty amount of money?” Sata said Cabinet officials could not demand salary and allowance increments because they were entitled to many other benefits such as free accommodation, airtime, security and vehicles
“And they themselves they want to be more fat. They want to be waxing more in fat. By the time Levy comes back, they will be too fat that they won’t even be able to walk to the Airport to go and meet him,” Sata said. “Don’t be in a hurry. Let’s wait for Levy.” Sata also said it would be difficult for parliamentarians to oppose the hefty allowances because they had been included in the upward adjustment. He said he would personally confront President Mwanawasa over the allowances when he returns from France. Sata further said agencies such as the Energy Regulation Board (ERB), Communications Authority of Zambia and the Rural Electrification Authority should be scraped off because they were a drain on the nation’s resources. Similarly, Sata said, the NCC should be suspended.
“The Governor of the Bank of Zambia must not be a yardstick,” said Sata.
On July 24 this year, Cabinet approved salary and allowance increments for constitutional office holders and senior government officials. According to an official document obtained by The Post, Cabinet approved a 15 per cent salary increment for constitutional office holders.
Cabinet also approved the introduction of a Responsibility Allowance, which shall be paid to the President, Vice-President, ministers and deputy ministers. They also approved increment in the rates of allowances currentlybeing paid to ministers, deputy ministers and senior government officials by 50 per cent of basic salary for housing allowance and 100 per cent for telephone, cell phone, water and electricity allowances.
The proposed increase of salaries and allowances would help to bridge the gap between political leaders and senior government officials and those of private members of parliament and chief executives in grant-aided institutions.