Let me start by recognising the 30-percent salary cut that Vice-President Khumbo Kachali announced for himself and his boss, President Mrs Joyce Banda. While the statement and the gesture has been described as too little and not consequential, I want to give the President and her deputy the benefit of doubt. Of course, in monetary terms, even up to K1 million not going into the pockets of these two people will not take away the sting that the devaluation and free-floating Kwacha is bringing to many a Malawian.
For its symbolism at least, I want to thank the President and VP Kachali. Let me remind these two protagonists that a 30-percent salary cut is already what I have experienced for years. This comes in the form of â€˜income tax or PAYEâ€™ from me to government every month. As far as I know, the President and the Vice-President do not pay â€˜PAYEâ€™. This 30 percent cut is just the same as all of us having all along been through the tax that we get deducted from the salaries office.
Secondly, if I announced on the radio or at any event that I have decided to get a 30-percent salary cut, will the accountant at my place of work implement that? In fact, I have been thinking of how I can emulate the Banda and Kachali example, but I doubt anyone will take me seriously. Who pays the president by the way? You must be a daft accountant to implement a salary cut based on a podium announcement. Salary changes must come with a memo from the relevant offices, the least of who is the employer himself or herself. I am watching what the OPC accountant is going to do.
Having congratulated the President for the self-imposed salary cut, I am wondering whether it would have been honourable if these two people would have just initiated a revision of tax-free status of the presidents, i.e. something like all Malawians in this country will pay tax.
I was also just thinking whether this 30-percent salary cut was not just a distraction. After blowing off over K330 million, a 30-percent salary cut was nothing. In any case, the president was coming back from the United States to face an angry population who thought that she was not paying attention to the austerity message. After all, how much can K330 million buy? You can think this is not much money or you may believe it is a lot. Let me guide you if you will.
The fees that all government sponsored-students in the University of Malawi will be paying at K55 000 per year will not be enough to reach K330 million. You would need 6000 (six thousand) students to pay fees to reach K330 million. This amount of money would by 1.32 million loaves of bread at K250 per loaf. This amount of money would pay the salary of almost all nurses working in the Ministry of Health for one month. â€”Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org