State vice-president Saulos Chilika said described a 10 percent pay salary cut for President Mutharika and his 32-member cabinet to cushion the impact of coronavirus on the economy as manifestly inadequate for a country that depends largely on donor funding, and where the virus is starting to be felt, therefore calling for further reduction up to 50 percentand cut on their fuel allowance.
Chilima, who has donated his 100 percent of his estimated K1.7 million monthly salary towards efforts to mobilise resources towards the Covid-19 fight, said at a news conference he held in Lilongwe on Wednesdya tha while he commends the President for cutting pff 10 percent from his salary and that of his bloated Cabinet it is “too little and insignificant.”
He said: “ I, therefore, sincerely request the President and cabinet members to at least donate 50 percent of their salaries and fuel allocations to go toward Covid-19 response.”
Government records show that Mutharika earns about $3,600 a month while his ministers earn about $1,073.
The president, vice president and cabinet members earn large sums of money beyond their salaries through allowances and other benefits.
‘No to self-enrichment’
The move to further cut their salaries and reduce expenditure has been echoed by commentators.
Humphreys Mvula, a social commentator based in Blantyre, also said the President and the Minister should be cutting down expenditures incurred; cost of fuel, cost of telephones, cost of huge fuel bills.
“And why can’t they look at an amount which is bigger that should really be seen as serious contribution?”
Mvula told Voice of America (VOA) that the government should also consider extending the wage cuts to all other political appointees on the public payroll.
Political analyst Vincent Kondowe supports the wage cut but questions how such funds will be directed to the fight against Covid -19.
“Are these resources which are going to be released from salary cuts going to reach the vulnerable people and cushion them against the negative impact that has come about because of Covid-19? History teaches us how [good] intentions by government have not ended up bearing any fruits,” said Kondowe.
Furthermore, the country’s estranged Vice-President proposed that Ministers should not be given any allowance as they undertake their duties in the inter-ministerial committee on Covid-19.
“ No-one should look at this disaster as an opportunity for making money or kudzipepesa. It is immoral to make money other people’s misfortune,” said Chilima.
‘No silly humour’
In his address at the news conference, Chilima also rapped two ministers; the chairperson of Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19, Minister of Health Jappie Mhango and also Minister of Energy Atupele Muluzi the United Democratic Front (UDF) president.
Chilima said while all Ministers of Health in the whole world were either fighting coronavirus or preparing for it, the country’s Minister of Health, Mhango instead of rallying his troops and marshalling State resources to fight the outbreak , was busy campaigning to be the president of the Malawi Olympic Committee as late as a few weeks ago.
He won the polls.
“Mr. President, do you think this person understands the enormity of the task of protecting millions of your people? Is this the time to be doing petty sports politics? Does he have that luxury?”
In reference to Muluzi, the vice-president said: “ In the same vein, one would be asking exactly what and why did the other Minister donate to China, the largest global manufacturer of medical equipment and drugs? This is the same China that is donating to USA and other Western countries.
“These jokes must stop. We cannot afford this silly humour when lives of Malawians are at stake.”
In his address, Chilima said “extraordinary moments require extraordinary people or leaders to take extraordinary measures.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :