Malawi President Joyce Banda has said she has decided to take a 30 per cent pay cut as a demonstration that she is prepared to sacrifice in line with her government’s austerity measures.
Vice-President Khumbo Kachali announced last Friday that he and his boss would take a 30 per cent pay cut as part of the Banda administration’s austerity measures.
President Banda on her return from her maiden appearance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday said: “The 30 per cent is what I got to become President of Malawi, so basically what I have done is to go back to my salary as Vice-President. It may not be significant, it may not be a lot, but for me it’s a demonstration that I am prepared to sacrifice.”
Banda, Africa’s second female president after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, ascended to power following the sudden death from cardiac arrest of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika in April.
“I’m finishing President Bingu wa Mutharika’s term. I didn’t know that I was going to be President this time, but I’m doing the best that I can, but the 30 per cent came along with that job, it can go,” she said.
Banda, 62, said when she told the vice-president to make the announcement while in New York Kachali volunteered that he too would take the salary cut. But she said she would not force the rest of her cabinet to follow suit.
“I think it would not be fair for me to insist that because this is the decision that I have made I then should insist that all cabinet ministers should do the same,” she said. “It’s up to them.”
As part of her government’s austerity measures Banda also said her government was selling the controversial presidential jet in a fortnight. Her predecessor, Mutharika, got in trouble with Malawi’s biggest aid donor, Great Britain, when he used donor money to buy the plane. London reacted by reducing its annual aid allocation to Malawi by 3 million pounds.
Banda said: “My position on the plane is that I shall never fly that plane again, it has to go.”
Vice-President Kachali said the plane would be disposed “in two weeks”.
The decision by the Banda administration to allow a 49 per cent devaluation hit Malawians hard in the pocket. Wild-cat strikes followed with people accusing leaders of not suffering together with the people.