Parliament voted Wednesday evening against the motion to lift the wage freeze that the Patriotic Front government has imposed on civil servants.
The motion that was moved by Choma Central Member of Parliament Cornelius Mweetwa was defeated 50 to 81 votes as Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda maintained that there was no money for government to increase salaries.
Debating on the motion earlier on, Monze Central Member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu wondered why government imposed a wage freeze yet the cost of leaving kept increasing and charged that the Kwacha’s value was melting like butter in the Kalahari desert.
Kasenengwa Member of Parliament Victoria Kalima urged civil servants to protest and go on strike should the Patriotic Front vote to maintain the wage freeze and promised to join the demonstrations.
She stressed that the salary increments that were awarded to workers in 2011 have been overtaken by the high cost of goods and pointed out that if the Ministers were to be paid what civil servants are getting they would lose weight in one day.
She said the imposition of the wage freeze by the Patriotic Front without consultation was a sign of high levels of dictatorship.
And Kalima said there was no point in celebrating the golden jubilee of independence because there was nothing to celebrate about and charged that President Sata had gone out of the country for medical check-ups to run away from the people because he had no message to give them on Independence Day.
“Sata is away for medical check-ups because he cannot face the people so how can we celebrate? Celebrate what?” Kalima asked.
Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo said the Patriotic Front should hand back all the members of parliament they ‘abducted’ to reduce on government expenditure.
He wondered why some ministries had up to three deputy ministers yet the Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda has operated for close to a year without a Deputy Minister.
Some Patriotic Front ministers tried to argue that there was no wage freeze since workers have been getting their salaries monthly adding that what was there was a moratorium on wages.
Mwandi Member of Parliament Michael Kaingu and Luena Member of Parliament Mulumemui Imenda however educated the Patriotic Front that a wage freeze was the same as a moratorium on wages.
Kaingu warned that at the rate the Patriotic Front was managing the country, they would soon fail to pay their own salaries.