The government should seek to protect Zambians from exploitative investors and not defend the government’s excesses such as increasing Presidential emoluments, the UPND in Livingstone has said.
And the Open Society Foundation has challenged the government to reverse the decision to increase salaries for the Executive and members of the legislature saying the decision was ill-timed and unpatriotic.
Halwabaa, the United Party for National Development (UPND) Livingstone district spokesperson, said that Shamenda’s statement was unfair to the lowly-paid poor Zambians.
“There is no way Shamenda can compare President Sata’s salary to that of other heads of state in SADC because Zambia’s economy fares worse than most of them.
The PF was voted into government based on their promise of alleviating the sufferings of Zambians and not to start increasing their salaries, no! So we demand for an apology from Shamenda,” he said.
In an interview with the Daily Nation in Livingstone on Wednesday, Halwabala charged that it is uncalled for a senior government official to defend the President’s salary increment as it would gobble money for other important national ventures.
He said that it was sad that the same PF which when in opposition scandalised the MMD over the President’s salary increment taken up the vice.
In the Open Society Foundation call, its executive director Sunday Chanda said his organisation was concerned about salary increments more especially that this was done at a time when the nation was facing serious economic challenges such as the lack of jobs for the nation’s unemployed youth.
Chanda observed that Zambia was yet to create a better life for its citizens and the government should be in the forefront sacrificing and aligning itself with the poor in creating a better life for all.
“The Zambian people have sacrificed through the removal of subsidies and it is high time that the government was seen to be sacrificing too. Zambia is still grappling with high poverty levels and the country is yet to dismantle the huge burden of unemployment, especially among youths.
“We therefore call on the government to reverse this reported decision as it is completely out of season. OSF also calls on the government to ensure Shoprite workers fired are reinstated and their conditions of service addressed by management. Zambia cannot afford to see jobs being lost when we have not yet dismantled the burden of joblessness,” Chanda said.
He said Zambia could not afford to see its citizens being rewarded peanuts by Shoprite when their counterparts in South Africa were paid better.
He reminded Shoprite management that it had a duty to reflect on salary scales as they exist in South Africa and apply them here too because their business venture was profitable in Zambia.
Chanda observed that there was need for the government to work on such disparities and ensure that foreign investors, such as Shoprite, do not play double standards in treating their workforce.
He said as a country, Zambia should not encourage unnecessary work stoppages by employees but government should ensure that investors do not suffocate the voice of the working class in demanding for better wages.
The foundation director further charged that Zambia needed to revise its labour laws so that they protect the worker’s rights more and that investors must not be allowed to set up camp here while they grossly violate workers’ rights, including the right to earn a living wage.