(By Natalie Ngosa and Oliver Chisenga)
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has increased his annual salary from K447,599 to K487,839, backdated to January 2018 despite his government announcing austerity measures in June to resuscitate the tumbling economy.
President Lungu’s decision to increase his annual salary and allowances comes at a time when his government is facing a debt crisis that has sent the local currency into a free fall. And Radical Revolutionary Party president Vincent Chaile has said President Lungu is the most irresponsible leader Zambia has ever had since independence.
President Lungu has also increased his special annual allowance from K117, 648 to K129, 413. According to Statutory Instrument No. 62 of 2018, President Lungu’s total annual emolument is pegged at K617, 252, which is about K51,437 per month. President Lungu last increased his salary in March 2016. In November 2016, President Edgar Lungu asked that his salary be cut by half, as part of the government-led austerity measures.
But Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe on August 9, 2018 signed into law President Lungu’s increased salary.
“In exercise of the powers contained in section 2 of the Presidential Emolument Act, and after consultation with the Standing Orders Committee of the National Assembly, the following are made: 1. (1) These regulations may be cited as the Presidential Emolument (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 and shall be read as one with the Presidential Emolument Regulations 2009, in these Regulations referred to as the principal Regulations. (2) These Regulations are deemed to have come into operation on January 1, 2018,” reads the SI.
“2. The principal Regulations are amended by the revocation of Regulation 2 and the substitution therefore of the following: 3. The President shall be paid a- (a) salary calculated at annual rate of K487,839.00 and (b) special annual allowance of K129,413.00.”
Government has also increased annual salaries for holders of constitutional offices.
Secretary to the Cabinet’s salary is pegged at K469,260, while Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet and the Attorney-General will be getting K414,470.
The Solicitor-General, Director of Public Prosecution, Auditor-General and the Public Protector will be getting K406,286, respectively.
Permanent secretaries’ annual salary has also been pegged at K380,897.
Commenting on the increased salary for President Lungu, Chaile said the Head of State was heartless to allow his salary to be adjusted when the majority of Zambians could not even afford a meal.
“President Edgar Lungu must be the richest Zambian by now. It’s on record in 2015 elections, he declared himself to be worth K2.5 million. A year later in 2016 elections, he declared above K25 millions. It’s sad indeed that this man who claims to be a humble leader has decided to increase his salary to K 487,398 annually when this Country is going through a serious economic crisis. Maybe the President is preparing for his exit,” Chaile, the former University of Zambia students Union president, said.
He said there was a lot of deception and lack of seriousness in President Lungu’s government.
He wondered how in the same breath that was talking about austerity measures, there could be an acceptance of a salary adjustment.
“There is too much hypocrisy, lack of seriousness and deception in Edgar Lungu administration. They are quick to call for austerity measures and plead with the poor citizens to tighten up their belts yet they are increasing their salaries. Surely, does President Edgar Lungu and his colleagues deserve salary increment? The answer is abig NO. They get millions of kwacha of allowances through unnecessary travels in and out of the country daily,” said Chaile.