The country’s estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima has committed to donate 100 percent of his estimated K1.7 million monthly salary towards efforts to mobilise resources towards the coronavirus (Covid-19) fight.
The Vice-President exclusively broke the news to The Nation barely a day after President Peter Mutharika ordered Treasury to cut off 10 percent from his salary and that of his bloated Cabinet to support the fight against the virus.
In an interview on Sunday, Chilima’s spokesperson Pilirani Phiri confirmed that the Vice-President has committed all his salary to the Covid-19 fight.
He said: “I can confirm that he [the Vice-President] will give 100 percent of his salary towards the fight against Covid-19, this is from now up to three months. Thereafter, he will continue his promise to give 50 percent of his salary to charity.”
Phiri added that the commitment is with immediate effect.
“The Office of the Vice-President will be communicating to the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet on the same that his salary goes to the Covid -19 fight,” he said.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have committed 80 percent of their respective salaries to Covid-19 financing while their Cabinet members and top civil servants have been prescribed to volunteer up to 30 percent of their pay.
On Saturday evening, Mutharika announced the 10 percent cut from his salary on a televised address in which he unveiled additional measures to address Covid-19.
Said the President: “I am also directing the Treasury to do the following: Reduce salaries of the President, Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers by 10 percent for three months and direct the resources to the fight against the coronavirus.”
He also instructed Malawi Revenue Authority to open up a voluntary tax compliance window for a period of six months to allow taxpayers with arrears to settle their tax obligations in installments without penalty.
The President further ordered Treasury to establish a Relief Fund through which well-wishers, companies and individuals can support the fight against Covid-19.
But Ernest Thindwa, a political analyst at Chancellor College—a constituent college of the University of Malawi, has described the 10 percent sacrifice as “too little”.
He said: “It is a good gesture, but the symbolic value is very little. On the other hand, the Vice-President should be commended. He is the only one who has committed his whole salary towards this. If all did like him, the impact would have been bigger. But all in all, it is a good gesture.”
Thindwa added that there are many people out there who would have loved to contribute to the cause, but because of lack of trust with government on how the money is going to be utilised, people may not respond accordingly.
On March 20, Mutharika declared the country a State of Disaster and announced measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, including the closing of schools and restricting the number of people in public gathering to 100 or less.