The decision by President Joyce Banda and Vice President Khumbo Kachale to cut their monthly salary by 30 percent is a very welcome development.
This shows that the presidency knows very well how much ordinary Malawians are suffering following the 50 percent devaluation of the Kwacha and effects of other austerity measures the government has embarked on following advice from the country's traditional donors.
Our statistcs show that late president Bingu wa Mutharika received K1.2 milion while his vice, now president Banda received K1 million.
Quick mathematics show that the government would be saving K660, 000 every month. This is insignificant to the state of the current economy, we are sorry to say. Malawians provide the presidency with everything including food and clothing, what else does one need in life?
Let the government cut the salaries of the whole cabinet and parliamentarians. Let the government sell off the luxurious limousines the ministers are using and buy vehicles which are cheap to maintain and can reflect the country's economy. The President should reduce the size of her cabinet, the 32 member cabinet is an oversize for a country like Malawi where 52 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. A cabinet of 15 even 10, helped by our able directors and principal secretaries, can do for the poor Malawi. After all half of the cabinet ministers just crisscross the country in the name of "familiarisation tours."
The President should sell off the jet, state residencies and cut her penchant for those expensive local and foreign trips.
While we appreciate that the President wants Malawians to know her for the sake of ballot paper, we believe that installation of a traditional authority can be performed by even a director in the local government ministry.
We wish to remind those in authority that they govern based on the trust that Malawians have handed them. And their stay in power is solely dependent on sustaining that trust.
Cabinet ministers do not deserve obscenely special trappings. They are no different from any other ordinary citizens. They have just been allowed to be first among equals. It is even fool hardy for these ministers to abuse their privileges by clinging on to luxuries.
Yes Malawians are patient and warm hearted. But they can be volatile when taken advantage of. They have given their leadership enough time to identify with their suffering. Do not blame them when their patience wears out.