Zambian president cuts his salary and that of cabinet, after petrol prices rise

This rare gesture is unusual in the African continent. Even presidents who are billionaires still continue to amass wealth while the people go through hardship.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu cut his salary and those of senior cabinet ministers on Friday, as higher electricity and fuel prices take effect, his office said.

“The slashing of salaries of highly paid public officers in both government and the parastatal sector is aimed at cushioning the impact on citizens arising from the increase on fuel prices and electricity tariffs announced by the Energy Regulation Board,” he said.

The Zambian leader said he fully understood the challenges that the people were going through but expressed optimism that the economy will rebound in 2020 due to measures the government has put in place.

Among the measures, he said, includes cost-cutting measure relating to travel of senior officials and protecting the vulnerable through ring-fencing the resources to the social sectors.

The price of petrol gained 10% to 17.62 kwacha ($1.27) per litre on Thursday, while that for diesel fuel rose by 9.6% to 15.59 kwacha.

The cost of electricity is to soar by 115% starting January 1.

The stiff hikes for electricity and fuel have sparked an uproar on social media where many Zambians vented their anger.

The cut in the president’s salary and those of senior ministers is in the range of 15 to 20%.

“The money realised will go into cushioning the impact on the vulnerable in society. The money realised from this decision will go towards ameliorating the impact that the increase would have brought on the masses,” Lungu’s press aide Isaac Chipampe said in a statement.

Lungu said he was aware of the suffering that the Zambians were going through as a result of the tariff hikes but expressed confidence that the economy would rebound in 2020 owing to measures that the government has put in place.

They include reducing travel by senior government officials.

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