HH, Kambwili to lead streets protests over “illegal” salary hikes for Ministers
The opposition UPND and the National Democratic Congress have agreed to jointly hold peaceful demonstrations over the decision by government to award Cabinet Ministers and the President 100 percent salary and allowances increments backdated to January 2018.
The two opposition parties contend that the decision is illegal as it was down without parliamentary approval.
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and NDC Consultant Chishimba Kambwili have since appealed to all public sector unions to join the protest.
The two leaders disclosed their plans during a joint news briefing held at Dr Kambwili’s residence in Lusaka.
They were flanked by UPND Deputy President Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba and NDC Vice President, Joseph Akafumba.
Mr. Hichilema said the two political parties have decided to come together and speak on behalf of Zambians whose welfare is at risk in the hands of the PF.
He said the PF has continued to recklessly spend public resources on expenditures that have nothing to do with the majority Zambians.
Mf Hichilema revealed that the two political parties will on Thursday lodge in a notice of protest to the Zambia Police Service in order for Zambians to stage a peaceful protest demanding for the revocation of the statutory instrument on the increase of the allowances and salaries.
“After a consultative meeting with our colleagues from the NDC, it has been resolved that we take any available and legal means to recover the illegal allowances that the PF has paid its President and Ministers. You have heard what my brother CK has said about those allowances. K41,000 each for a few individuals per month as salary increment is very inhumane when the majority of our people are getting very meagre salaries,” said Mr Hichilema.
“And then as if that is not enough, that hefty allowance has been backdated to January 2018. Why are people this selfish. We shall do this for Zambians and not for Kambwili or Hakainde, “he said.
“We shall also demand that the Concourt ruling on the Ministers that drew salaries after the dissolution of the 2016 parliament is enforced and that money is refunded in full to allow our hospitals get stocked with medicines as well as educate our students whose allowances have not been paid over time,” Mr Hichilema said.
The UPND leader said Zambians are in serious trouble and that this calls for all Zambians to join hands and demand for accountability from the PF government
“And it is our prayer that the police not be found wanting by standing against the people,” Mr. Hichilema said.
Mr Hichilema questioned the level of decision making in the PF government where people can spend $ 68 million to buy a Gulf Stream Jet for the use of five people when that money could have been used to address the several ills in the country such as the lack of medicines, the lack of adequate farming inputs as well as educate more than 30,000 university and college students.
“I just can’t seem to understand the thinking of some people especially when it comes to service delivery. $68 million Gulf stream jet for five people when national poverty is skyrocketing.”
“It is inhuman for the PF to spend over 60 million dollars to buy a jet that will be used by four or five people when the majority of Zambians are suffering. That money can take 30, 000 children to school and help procure medicines for our hospitals”, Mr. Hichilema lamented.
And Dr. Kambwili has called on all public sector unions including the police and the Military to join the planned peaceful protest as they are the ones that have been denied a normal and sustainable salary increase on assumption that there is no money in the treasury to warrant a huge increase.
Dr Kambwili said the increase which is outside the Ministerial and Parliamentary emoluments is illegal as it was effected without approval from parliament which is mandated to approve such increments.
He called on Zambians to stand up and ensure that the PF is not allowed to have a free thieving spree when the country is bleeding from poverty and hunger.
He further said the opposition is ready to use any available avenue to ensure that the money is returned to the treasury which will include the courts as the increase is not only illegal but also unconstitutional hence the need for it to be challenged vigorously.
Dr Kambwili explained that his legal team in September wrote to Secretary to Cabinet for advice on how much he owes the treasury for the salaries and allowances drawn during the period that parliament had been dissolved in 2016 as he was ready to pay back the money he allegedly owes Zambians and that he was awaiting Secretary to Cabinet response.
“For your own information, I have written to the Secretary to the Cabinet asking him where I should pay the money, the Concourt ruled and I will pay back that money having received it when I illegally stayed in Office”, Mr. Kambwili added.
But PF Media Director Sunday Chanda accused the two Leaders and their Vice Presidents of lacking the capacity to provide credible checks and balances to the government.
Source: Lusaka Times