By Julia Malunga
State House says it is not clear if Cabinet has implemented President Edgar Lungu’s directive to cut his pay and to further effect a 15 to 20 per cent salary reduction on Ministers and top-earning civil servants.

And sources at Cabinet Office have told News Diggers that President Lungu’s directive was not practical to implement because it was illegal.

Last December, President Lungu announced the reduction of his salary and that of his Cabinet between a range of 15 and 20 per cent, with savings realised due to be allocated towards cushioning the vulnerable, amid the escalating cost of living.

State House Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe announced that the Head of State had ordered marginal reduction in his salary and the salaries of all other Cabinet members, including Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Simon Miti, at an average 15 per cent, effective Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

“His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has announced the reduction of his salary and that of his Cabinet between a range of 15 and 20 per cent. The President has also directed the Secretary to the Cabinet to cascade the directive to all non-unionised public officers in both government and the parastatal sector, aimed at cushioning the impact on citizens arising from the increase on fuel prices and electricity tariffs announced by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB)” Chipampe had announced.

“The President says public officers in the highest salary brackets will have their salaries cut by 20 per cent whereas those in the middle will have theirs reduced by 15 per cent. The President added: ‘I have shown the way and those willing to work with me should be ready to sacrifice.”

In a brief follow up interview, however, Chipampe said Cabinet was supposed to implement the salary cuts but State House was not sure whether or not the Head of State’s directive had been effected.

“The President made that decision and Cabinet are supposed to implement. So, if you call Dr Miti he might clarify on that one. So, whether it has started or not, it is Cabinet who should be responsible for that,” said Chipampe.

But when contacted, Dr Miti said he would “revert”. By press time, there was no further communication from his office.

Sources however have explained that there was no law that Cabinet Office would use to cut civil servants salaries by 15-20 percent.

“Firstly it would be illegal to do so. What power does the Secretary to Cabinet have to write to the Zesco MD or the Permanent secretary in a ministry and say we are cutting your salary by 20 per cent. Some would not be willing to do that. So that was not a directive, but a plea for people volunteer for salary cuts,” said the source.

“So if the question is when will Cabinet Office effect the President’s directive, the answer is that it won’t happen. It would be illegal and we would be subjecting the State to legal suits.” – ND


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