The Zambia Democratic Conference (ZADECO) has demanded the immediate establishment of an independent commission that will be looking at emoluments and other conditions of service for Parliamentarians.
And the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has charged that it is unfair for members of Parliament to ask for an increase in their emoluments when there is a wage moratorium affecting public service workers.
ZADECO president Langtone Sichone said it was unfortunate for parliamentarians to ask for higher perks at the expense of the people they were representing.
Mr Sichone said there was an urgent need for government to set up a body that would look into salaries and conditions of service for MPs.
“It is unfair really for MPs to set conditions of service for themselves simply because they are in Parliament. Already, these people have failed to utilize the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), they have failed to supervise government because most of their jobs are being done by councillors. The same councilors who are doing their work are getting minimal benefits.
“The MPs we have in the house leave much to be desired because this is clearly another loot out of national coffers. They did not go to Parliament to make money but to represent the people of this country,” he said.
Mr Sichone said Zambians should have a Parliament which is interested in affairs affecting the people of Zambia instead of their own.
He said it was interesting that Zambians were coming to terms with the needs of their representatives. Mr Sichone however said MPs should realise that they did not contest elections under duress and that more sober minded people were wanted to work for the people than the people who were only interested in their well being.
He warned that with such demands, productivity of the nation was at stake as the men and women from the opposition political parties who are expected to offer checks and balances to government were in the forefront demanding for higher perks.
“As opposition we must stop embarrassing ourselves and offer proper checks and balances to government. We are appealing to the MPs to be cautious of what they were doing by not being self centered.
Meanwhile, the JCTR says it was alive to the fact that parliamentarians were playing an important role in balancing the process of national governance.
JCTR information officer Mwiinga Shimilimo said in a statement that her institution found the request for a pay rise by our parliamentarians disturbing in the light of the impending mid-term gratuity due this September. Ms Shimilimo said the application for a pay rise and the mid-term gratuities were inappropriate in Zambia’s economic and development context.
“Our informed position is that all public sector expenditure on salaries and emoluments must be consistent with national socio-economic and development realities. We therefore find the demand by our MPs at variance with this reality. Accordingly, we appeal to our honourable legislators to exercise due leadership in this regard by setting national priorities and the common good above their collective and individual needs,” she said.
Ms Shimilimo said the JCTR has since recommended to all public servants and constitution office bearers a reflection on the wise adage; “function for finance” if they truly meant to address the development challenges and disparities currently facing the country.