Friday, November 21, 2008

Rupiah is provoking people, charges Sata

Rupiah is provoking people, charges Sata
Written by Patson Chilemba and Lambwe Kachali
Friday, November 21, 2008 4:43:51 AM

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday said it is sad that President Rupiah Banda is provoking people with impunity over the salary increments for senior government officials and constitutional office holders just after a disputed election.

Commenting on the three Bills to increase salaries and allowances that were passed in Parliament and are ready for presidential assent, Sata said everything he had said about President Banda during the presidential campaigns was coming true.

He said there was tension in the country contrary to what some 'rebel' parliamentarians were saying in Parliament.

Sata said some members of parliament were saying there was no tension in the country because they had managed to reduce the tension in their pockets.

He said the move to increase salaries would only aggravate the situation further.

"The people of Zambia are seeing. My own rebels, my own party rebels are saying there is no tension. You can't come from a disputed election and start provoking people the way this government is doing... provoking people with impunity," he said.

Sata said even in situations where a political party won the election with a landslide, they would not be as callous as this government.

He said although there had been some adjustments to the initial figures in the Bills, the salaries and allowances for constitutional office holders and senior government officials still remained exorbitantly high.

Sata said national resources should be shared equally.

He said it was sad that only 158 people plus a few others would be getting money that could have been channelled to more needy areas.

He said people were watching and each member of parliament would have to give an account of their actions.

"When you are talking of 'irresponsibility' allowance, all the things for ministers is there, talk time is there, servants are there. Everything is there. What I'm saying is we elect leaders to protect us and like in the house, the mother and father would like to see that their children eat before they eat themselves," Sata said. "Whilst we know their working conditions are not all that good, but what about the ordinary people? What about the ordinary workers, the ordinary soldiers, the ordinary policemen, the ordinary person working in hospital, the ordinary teacher?"

Sata said he knew President Banda very well and the deception on the allowances was the beginning of the President's manifestation of his true colours. "It's just the beginning; just wait you will see the true colours of Rupiah Banda," Sata said. "I told you there is no K50,000 fertiliser. I told you mealie-meal has not been reduced, it's political. I told you fuel is political. Now salaries is political."

Sata also said 'rebel' PF parliamentarians were shameless mercenaries who were interested in serving their own pockets.

He said despite having been de-campaigned by Frederick Chiluba and the rebels, PF performed better than 2006 in Luapula and Northern provinces.

Sata said the rebels would face the temerity of their actions.

On the continued publication of the map of election results by Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), Sata said the map which ECZ director Dan Kalale and his officials were giving to the Zambian people was blank.

"Let them show on those maps how many votes each one of us had. So there is nothing on the map. You find that on those maps, districts or constituencies look bigger than provinces. You find that Chembe Constituency looks bigger than Luapula Province. What's the panic by Danny Kalale?" asked Sata.

And Independent Churches of Zambia (ICOZ) president Reverend David Masupa charged that President Banda and his government were using the people of Zambia as pawns to amass wealth.

Rev Masupa said prior to the just-ended presidential election, President Banda pledged to the people of Zambia that he had withdrawn the Bills on account of the high levels of poverty the country was facing.

He wondered whether the poverty that President Banda talked about had ended.

Rev Masupa urged President Banda not to assent to the Bills if he was to restore the lost confidence and trust from the people of Zambia.

"We call upon the government to be very honest in the sight of people. They should realise that they are the servants of the people and they should have the interest for the people first before they serve their interest. We say so because we do realise that right now, people are crying over high prices of mealie-meal. An ordinary person is getting less than K250,000 and cannot afford to buy mealie-meal," Rev Masupa said. "It would have been better for government to ensure that they first of all bring the prices of mealie-meal down and cushion the shocks of poverty levels in the country. Right now the people of Zambia are breeding out of poverty."

He said it was sad that some politicians in Zambia had become so heartless to an extent that they could do anything to serve their selfish political gains.

Rev Masupa observed that President Banda's promise to withdraw the Bills was a campaign gimmick to hoodwink Zambians.

"Should Mr Rupiah Banda sign the Bills, we are going to say that he has displayed double standards, far from being a man of integrity and a man of honesty because the Bible says, let a yes be a yes and no be a no," said Rev Masupa.

On Wednesday, Parliament unanimously passed the three Bills to increase salary and allowances for constitutional office holders and senior government officials by 15 per cent.

Vice-President George Kunda tabled the Bills before Parliament and noted that the treasury currently had insufficient resources to cover the proposed emoluments payable to the president in full due to the heavy expenditure the government had incurred on the just-ended presidential election, and the funeral of the late president Levy Mwanawasa.

He said in light of the limited financial resources available, he had still returned the three Bills to Parliament for reconsideration so that an increase of 15 per cent could be effected across the board on salary and allowances for the President, ministers, members of parliament and constitutional office holders in line with the 15 per cent increase in salary awarded to officers in the public service this year.

Following the amendments, the President's salary per month would now be increased from K11.9 million to K13.7 million calculated at annual rate of K164,220,000. The President would also be entitled to a special allowance of K59,194,734 from K51,473,682. The Vice-President's salary per annum would be K99,227,544, special allowance K33,886,567 and utility allowance of K26,680,000. The Speaker's salary is K86,284,817, special allowance K30,049,625 and a utility allowance of K26,680,000. The deputy Speaker's salary would be K75,117,124, special allowance, K26,382,673, and utility allowance of K266,680,000, A Cabinet minister's salary would now be pegged at K75,117,124, special allowance, K26,382,673 and utility allowance pegged at K26,680,000. The Chief Whip's salary would be K75,117,124, special allowance K 26,382,673 and utility allowance of K26,680,000. Leader of the opposition's salary would be K75,117,124, special allowance K26,382,673 and utility allowance of K26,680,000. A deputy minister would be entitled to a salary of K70,953,186, special allowance K24,107,904 and utility allowance pegged at K26,680,000, while a private member of parliament's salary would be K70,161,239, special allowance K19,165,615, with utility allowance of K26,680, 000.

For the constituency allowances, the Vice-President, Speaker, deputy Speaker, Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and private members with parliamentary seats in rural areas would get K20,010,000 while those in urban areas would get K16,008,000 and the nominated members would get K13,340,000.

The Secretary to the Cabinet's salary per annum would now be pegged at K159,340,959 and a responsibility allowance of K48,300,000. The Attorney General would get K135,485,950 and responsibility allowance of K41, 400,000. The Investigator General and the Auditor General would get K129,034,245 with responsibility allowance of K41,400,000. The Solicitor General and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would get K129, 034,245 and a responsibility allowance of K35,479,800.

In August, Cabinet approved salary and allowance increments for constitutional office holders and senior government officials.

Later, government asked Parliament to backdate salary increments and allowances for the Vice-President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, ministers and other members of parliament to January 1, 2008.

The three Bills passed through Parliament and were ready for assent but then Vice-President Banda, during his election campaign launch, refered them back to Parliament.

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