Written by PIUS NYONDO
MZUZU—The awarding of an 80 percent hike in allowances for cabinet ministers to make up for the soaring cost of living was a catalyst in Malawi public workers' demand for a 67 percent raise in pay last month, president of the Civil Service Trade Union Eliah Kamphinda Banda said in an exclusive interview with MaraPost.
"If the president is able to raise ministers' allowances by 80 per cent, do civil servants buy their needs from markets different from ones graced by ministers?" wondered Kamphinda Banda.
He added: "The ministers' allowances hike [way back in July 2012] was the first and worst provocation ever experienced by civil servants. It was an outright insult and gave us the impression that ministers aren't meant to feel the economic pinch under austerity budget. The message we got is that suffering from austerity measures is supposed to be exclusive to civil servants."
Kamphinda Banda said the government has been able to adjust salaries of other government agencies.
The remarks by the unionist, who described the Malawi economy as “sick", come at a time the government has been criticized by local activists and donors for extravagance.
Pres. Joyce Banda came to power in April last year following the untimely death of Pres. Bingu wa Mutharika. She implemented tough economic reforms her predecessor had resisted, saying they’d hurt the power.
While preaching belt-tightening, the leadership, as pointed by Kamphinda Banda, has continued to live beyond the country’s means.
© The Maravi Post 2013