Information deputy minister Mwansa Kapeya has claimed that members of parliament and ministers in Zambia get peanuts compared to teachers who are “well paid.”
Featuring on Cross Fire Blogtalk Radio, a UK-based based radio online, Kapeya said ruling Patriotic Front ministers and MPs were sacrificing on behalf of the country.
The former local language Bemba section broadcaster at ZNBC specializing in radio drama known as Ifyabukaya laughed off suggestions by presenter Gershom Ndhlovu for ministers to surrender their allowances and save on government expenditure.
“A salary of a minister, its peanuts compared to a parastal chief executive. Even the teachers, they are well paid today than ministers.
“Some of us had made our living when we were in the broadcasting industry, we are just doing this for the service for our people,” a once poverty stricken Kapeya said in defending the recent decision by the Patriotic Front government to remove subsidies on fuel and maize thereby triggering the cost of living and has attracted countrywide protests.
A teacher in Zambia gets an average of KR 2000 while a minister is assured of a minimum of KR 10, 000 including allowances and all.
Kapeya said the decision to remove subsidies was communicated to the people.
“People had been warned for a long time. We realized the system was of subsidies was not well run. For us thought it was a waste of resources.
“Zambian people knew very well that we are going to remove subsidies,” he said.
Kapeya said subsidies did not reach the intended beneficiaries but the PF would channel the money recovered towards development projects.
“I don’t subscribe to that articulation [gradual removal of subsidies]. We would have done it in 2011, we would have done it in 2012. We wanted to give the people a breather. There is nothing strange,” he said.
Kapeya, who is Mkushi North MP, also contradicted his commerce counterpart Miles Sampa when he said the PF still had money to hold by elections.
Sampa had recently said Zambia budgeted K5 billion for eight by-election but the PF induced parliamentary by-elections have burst the budget.
Kapeya defended this aspect saying it could not be used to save funds and channel towards subsidies.
“There is nothing we can do on by-elections because we are tied by the constitution. We are very comfortable on that one my brother.
“Who said that we have run out of money for by-elections? We have also a budget for eventualities, we have put money aside to handle eventualities. We have a budget for such eventualities,” he said.
Kapeya accused the opposition of blowing the situation of subsidies out of proportion because in his view the people of Zambia had accepted the government decision.
“The opposition is blowing trumpets, exaggerating the whole issue. The issue [of subsidies] is being exaggerated by the opposition. If the owners of the country are saying this is a good move, who are we to say no. We consult, we plan and consult the experts…. We just don’t wake up as if we are in a kindergarten,” he said.
But speaking on Radio Phoenix on Wednesday morning, opposition MMD Petauke MP Dora Siliya says it was surprising the PF was running a capitalist sytle of government when it assumed office on a pro poor campaign promise.
“PF is the first socialist government to run a capitalist economy maybe in the entire world,” Siliya, a former broadcaster and MMD spokesperson, said.