By Prof. Michelo Hansungule
President Michael Sata should show leadership and denounce himself for awarding himself a huge salary if he has signed it under the influence of muti or duress and wasn’t really sure or conscious as to understand what he was doing.
This small problem nevertheless has wide implications on the quality of leadership in Africa. If president Sata is not behind the decision to increase his salary and those of his friends, then how does the system work? It means that by the same token, the president will work up tomorrow only to find a committee in Parliament increase at the expense of majority poor Zambians, ailing rural farmers, striking poorly paid civil servants and other Zambians who voted for him. The president must denounce and cancel the increase and take responsibility as a leader should instead of childishly throwing the ball to a committee of Parliament. This should be easy for him to do given that he has exonerated himself and his executive preferring to blame a committee of Parliament and particularly opposition members of Parliament in the committee which means if he is to be believed the decision is not his and someone is putting tax payers money on his account without his consent. I am assuming in all this that he has not signed the statutory instrument and has decided to block his salary. Is this reasonable at all? Can Parliament force food into president Sata’s throat? What this problem demonstrates is serious lack of basic decency in African leadership. It is true that every Jim and Jack are singing ‘good governance’ at breakfast, lunch and dinner simultaneously as they practice bad governance. At its elementary level, basic decence will require the president to own up and take responsibility for what he has done and for the actions and omissions of his officials especially on issues which involve him which have been sanctioned by the State. It is a colossal failure of leadership for the president when confronted by citizens demanding answers to pass the buck and blame opposition in a committee of Parliament as if he is not going to benefit himself.
Africa will remain poor and even get poorer unless there is fundamental change in leadership. Africans must realise that in itself, the vote does not change the structure of society. What is important is to ensure that the vote brings about structural change in society and this begins with leadership. To be blunt, African needs leadership that does not go into public position to enrich itself and live ostentatious lives amidst poverty among their electorates. Voters should reflect before going into the polling booth and use the vote to change their lives. If an administration increases its salary three times in two years, isn’t it the clearest proof that all it is doing in cabinet is to plan their salary increases and you say you have a leadership? In 2000, world leaders Zambians included plotted through the Millennium Development Goals to slash extreme poverty by half by the 2015. Just look around the Zambian townships and villages two years before the D-day in 2015!
President Michael Sata has a moral duty to publicly denounce and rescind the latest salary increase because it is immoral. It is immoral for the president to stuff his pockets with millions of impia from the treasury which fails to pay his government officials enough to live decent lives. The PF should not concentrate on making money from tax payers. PF government should not focus on getting as much as it can before they are chucked out of office. Rather, government should focus not on their pockets but on raising the living standard of the poorest Zambian. The starting point is that president Sata should condemn stealing from government through frequent salary increases and cancel his latest salary rise.