Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pay to Caesar what is worth of his work
By Editor
Thu 17 Oct. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Listening to the discourse on the 10 per cent increase in the President's salary, one wonders what we Zambians really believe in.

There are so many views being expressed on this issue. And it seems there is no view so crazy about this issue that no one in this country holds it. Every crazy view on this issue, it seems someone holds it. This, it seems, is not such a bad thing but the beauty of democracy.

Our President is certainly not one of the highest paid presidents in this region or on our continent. The new annual salary of our President will be K414,406 with a special annual allowance of K108,934, which translates to K43,611 per month. This may sound too high but there are many people working for government and quasi-governmental organisations who are earning far much more than this. For instance, the governor of the Bank of Zambia earns not less than K150,000 per month. And the salaries of most chief executives of parastatal entities are far more than the new salary of the President.

The lowest paid president in this region is Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has an annual salary of K97,956.83. And one of the highest paid African presidents is South African President Jacob Zuma at K1,382,940 annually. In the second position is Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta with K1,272,030.34. Compare this with Michael Sata's K414,406! Of course, our countries do not have the same earnings. But we don't think that being in leadership should be such a huge sacrifice in terms of one's salary.

We need to be very careful with some of these things. Sacrifices are needed but they shouldn't lead to other bigger or worse problems. If an individual thinks that dedicating one's life to political leadership means that in return, he should not have such worries as that his son lacks certain things, or that his children's shoes are worn out, or that his family lacks some necessity, then he is entering into rationalisations which open his mind to infection by the seeds of future corruption.

The children of our political leaders should have or should go without those things that the children of the average man have or go without, and their families should understand this and strive to uphold this standard. Progress in our country is made through the individual, but the individual must forge his progressive spirit day by day.

Of course, in the political leadership of our country and given the dangers of the present situation, we need men and women who fight to escape from the realm of necessity to enter that of freedom.

In these circumstances, one must have a great deal of humanity and a strong sense of justice and truth in order not to fall to the temptations of corruption and isolate themselves from the masses.

Our leaders must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples.

Of course, we should not lose sight of the fact that a dangerous tendency has shown itself of late among many of our politicians - an unwillingness to share the joys and hardships of the masses, a concern for personal fame and gain. We have leaders who are more concerned about themselves than they are about the plight of the people. But all this should not lead us to cynicism, to criticising things for the sake of it. We should be able to distinguish right from wrong. And in the political life of our people, how should right be distinguished from wrong in one's words and actions?

Broadly speaking, we consider that words and actions should help unite, and not divide, our people and their leaders. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to the social and economic transformations going on in our country. They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken our democracy. They should help to consolidate, and not to undermine or weaken, the governance of our country. They should help to strengthen, and not discard or weaken, the leadership of our country.

We must undoubtedly criticise wrong ideas and actions of every description. It certainly would not be right to refrain from criticism, to look on while wrong ideas and actions spread unchecked and allow them to monopolise the field. Mistakes must be criticised and poisonous weeds fought wherever they crop up. However, such criticism should be reasonable and honest. What is needed is a convincing argument.

These are difficult times for all of us. Many things are not going well in our country. But this should not make us lose sight of some of the good things happening around us. In times of difficulty, we must not lose sight of our achievements, we must see the bright future and must pluck up our courage. It is sheer fantasy to imagine that the cause of progress in our country will be plain-sailing and easy success, without difficulties and setbacks or exertion of tremendous effort. We must all take this fully into account and be prepared to overcome all difficulties with an indomitable will and in a planned way. Negative and cynical forces will always be there. But both those who are trying to do good and those who are negative have difficulties. However, the difficulties of the negative elements are insurmountable because they are forces on the verge of death and have no future. The difficulties of progressive, well-intentioned and well-meaning people can be overcome because they are new and rising forces and have a bright future.

At certain times in any progressive political struggle, the difficulties outweigh the favourable conditions and so constitute the principal aspect of the contradiction and the favourable conditions constitute the secondary aspect. But through the efforts of our well-meaning citizens and their leaders, we can overcome the difficulties step by step and open up a favourable new situation; thus a difficult situation yields to a favourable one. Therefore, there is no need to give up to cynics, to those who criticise everything and everyone apart from themselves and their own actions.

There is clearly nothing wrong with the 10 per cent salary increment given to the President by the necessary and legitimate committee of Parliament. It doesn't do us any good as a nation to try and portray Michael as a greedy and selfish leader. Yes, Michael has many weaknesses, failings and shortcomings for which he deserves criticism, but selfishness, greed and vanity are not part of them. Let's criticise our leaders in a fair and just way. If criticism is valid, it must be made. If criticism is not valid, it shouldn't be made. And over this 10 per cent salary increment, criticism is not valid and as such, it shouldn't be made. Let Michael get a salary that is in line with the current conditions and circumstances of our country. And we don't think the salary that Parliament has given the President is unjustified, unreasonable in the conditions and circumstances of our country. These are salaries we are giving to many public workers. And there is no good reason why the President of this country should not be paid such a salary.

Yes, there is need for politics. But we should not allow the politics of our country to be relegated to trivialities chosen precisely because they salve the consciences of the powerful, of the power-hungry, of the cynics and conceal the realities of our country.

If we are against corruption, let us not leave our people, our leaders open to situations that tempt them to engage in corruption. A president who is not able to meet the needs of his family is one open to corruption, to favour-seeking and consequently to being held hostage by those who give him money and who extend all sorts of favours to him. Let's create a situation where our leaders are not tempted to sell government policies and decisions to the highest bidders by paying them reasonable salaries.

Pay to Caesar what is worth of Caesar's work!

Is this journalism or opinion. Denial is how the Zimbabwean situation was forced to fester, until the people moved onto the land, and the goverment had to follow them.

" Julius Malema has never advocated organised violence against whites in any serious way, but then, he doesn’t need to: the prospect, for whites, of losing the majority of their wealth, is the most serious threat that can be made against an entire minority group of South Africans within the current hate speech legislation. "

How did whites get 'the majority of 'their' wealth', again? How did 10% of the population end up with 87% of the country again? How did whites end up with Californian lifestyles, and Africans with Congolese lifestyles, to paraphrase Naomi Klein?

And how long do you think this is sustainable? Why do you think you can maintain an apartheid economy under democracy? And why would you want to?

That is at the core of the issue, not denouncement of Julius Malema.

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