PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has proved to the world that not all politicians are in office to fatten their pockets, but for the betterment of the people they serve, says Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection national coordinator Leonard Chiti.
And the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has appealed to parastatal chief executive officers (CEOs) enjoying hefty salaries and allowances to emulate President Lungu by sacrificing 50 percent of their salaries to the treasury to promote the austerity measures in the 2017 national budget.
Fr. Chiti said JCTR applauded President Lungu’s noble gesture of cutting his salary by half as part of his sharing in the struggles with many poor Zambians.
He said the move had shown that the head of State’s concern for the welfare of Zambians by putting back into the Treasury a fraction of his personal emoluments for a just cause.
The Catholic cleric explained that Zambia was going through very tough times economically and President Lungu should be praised for his noble gesture of forfeiting part of his salary to stand in solidarity with the poor people.
“It is great news and a welcome move that the President has taken to stand in solidarity with the majority citizens who are suffering as a result of the austerity measures the Government has undertaken to help build the economy. And this should stand as an example to all of us, to encourage all of us not just the Government but also the private sector to make a sacrifice towards building economic reserves for the nation,” Fr. Chiti said.
Fr. Chiti said the gesture must be emulated by all well-meaning Zambians as a way of standing in solidarity with the poor people who were feeling the effects of the austerity measures embarked on through the souring fuel prices and the yet to be increased electricity tariff charges.
And ZCTU president Chishimba Nkole said President Lungu’s decision to cut his salary by half was a call that Zambians with huge pay must sacrifice 50 percent of the salaries to the treasury.
Mr Nkole told the Daily Nation that President Lungu should not be the only citizen to sacrifice 50 percent of his monthly salary but that everyone in society whose salaries and allowances were hefty should emulate the Head of State.
“Parastatal chief executive officers enjoy hefty salaries and allowances and our hope is that they will emulate President Lungu by considering their salary cuts,” Mr Nkole said. He said what President Lungu had demonstrated was symbolic and should be emulated even by those in the private sector who were getting huge salaries and allowances.
Mr Nkole said there were many Zambians whose earnings were poor and it was important that such a category of citizens had their salaries increased.
Mr Nkole said there was need to promote the working poor’s salaries while reducing salaries and allowances for those who had heft salaries. “So what we are saying is that Zambians who are highly paid must relook at their salaries including those in the private sector. “High emoluments among a few individuals will negatively affect the economy and are against the proposed austerity measures in the 2017 National Budget. We support and welcome President Lungu’s sacrifice to have his salary cut by 50 percent because it is meant to bring sanity and discipline in the financial management of State resources,” Mr Nkole said.