By Nkonkomalimba Kafunda
Last week parliamentarians awarded themselves improved conditions of service which include, among other things, a 17% salary increment, K3000 sitting allowances and in excess of US$100,000 in car loan entitlements.
In a country with astronomically high unemployment, stratospheric cost of living and a frustratingly narrow tax base it is only prudent that transactions of this nature are put into context, though certain beneficiary sections of society may be averse to public scrutiny.
At a memorial service a few days after the increment, in a timely, apt, well-received comment, President Hakainde Hichilema reminded leaders, at all levels, that they are where they are because of the sacrifices of others.
As sacrifices go, the political party cadre is up there having made innumerable acts of selflessness for party and country, ostensibly in the pursuit of a better, equitable and just society. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice, death at the hands of political rivals or security forces.
The reward is seldom seen as victorious political parties are in the unenviable position of having more cadres than things for cadres to do. This, in turn, has created an identity crisis for the average cadre. What is one to do? Harassment of bus drivers and marketeers is highly frowned upon and is very likely to attract the wrath of party officials. Expulsion, in this regard, is avoided like the plague, HIV and Covid rolled in one. Then there is the wretched business of selling undocumented plots. That one, in the new dawn, is attracting jail time. So what is a self-respecting cadre to do and still retain relevance within the confines of the law? Not much.
The enhanced CDF had but a glimmer of hope. However, the processes are rigid and require transparency, accountability and worse still repayment of funds. Furthermore, as the virtues of frugality, piety and modesty, are in chronic short supply among cadres, all empowerment funds are non-starters. With criminality strongly discouraged as a livelihood cadres are feeling Insufficiently loved.
The dilemma does not end there. Though quaint, in order to find jobs they need experience and in order to gain experience, they need to have had jobs previously. Classic catch-22.
The fact that most are untrained and untrainable does not help matters.
On the other end of the spectrum are the Members of Parliament at K3000 per sitting, K80,000 a month taken home and loans that keep high-end show rooms in business. The income disparity between the cadre and the citizen (particularly the youth) on one hand and the minister and MP on the other has never been wider. The elector and the elected occupy parallel universes.
At the local government level the councillors, council chairpersons and mayors, though closer to the people through grassroots politics, are renumerated at pitifully lower rates. They, too, are unsung heroes.
As a county that espouses justice and equity in a Christian framework, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions. Are the newly approved remunerations commensurate with MP’s service delivery? Can a treasury laden with all manner of debt afford these perks in this tight fiscal space? Is austerity limited only to the people?
Lastly, what does this say about leadership in relation to service to the people as opposed to personal aggrandizement?
In conclusion, we must appreciate that public confidence in politics, politicians, government and institutions of governance has been continuously eroded over the past few years, and this trust needs to be rigorously restored. Extravagant salaries for politicians, amidst endemic poverty and pauperism, endears them to no one.
Remember that it is a upnd mp who handed in this proposal in parliament. We warned you that those hyenas are it for their own pockets. You will now realise that you made the biggest mistake of your lives.
Zambian politicians go into politics for only one thing: The Money
It’s for wealth not service.
They need the cars/ trucks to drive in the poorly maintained gravel roads, k3000 is how much dollar? It’s just a quest of service with dignity.
EQUALITY ENDS AT THE BALLOT BOX.
AFTER THAT T IS SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST OR THE POWERFUL
YOU IGNORE THAT RULE AT YOUR OWN PERIL
Don’t be too hard on MPs. Cost of living has gone high, fuel is expensive. Mthey are humans. Ends cannot meet. They need infresnebt to feed their families. The PF Govt used to punish MP with very liitle salaries
IMF are watching
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