Bringing back deputy ministers defeats people’s will- Mpombo

Bringing back deputy ministers defeats people’s will- Mpombo.

GEORGE Mpombo says bringing back the position of deputy minister will defeat the will of the people.

Parliament on November 9 passed a motion to amend the amended Constitution which was signed by President Edgar Lungu early this year.

It had scrapped the position of deputy ministers and introduced several other clauses that were seen to be progressive among Zambians.

But soon after being sworn in following the disputed August 11 elections, President Lungu ordered the amendment of the amended Constitution, saying it had brought confusion.

Mwansabombwe PF member of parliament Rodgers Mwewa moved the motion for the amendment of the constitution to include the position of deputy ministers and amend some clauses they consider contentious.

But Mpombo, who served as minister in the MMD government and former Zambia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, said the Patriotic Front government should not change the amended Constitution against the will of the people.

“This will just bring about confusion because people don’t want it. It is an assault on the will of the people because people spoke barely a year ago and now, they want to bring back the deputy minister position for selfish reasons. When you talk about the deputy minister, it’s coming from the MPs because they have got interest in it. They feel it’s time for them to benefit instead of the people,” Mpombo said.

“We decided to do away with that position because we were running the biggest government in Central Africa and Southern Africa. We needed to cut down on cost. It was a huge burden on the economy. I don’t think President Lungu will succumb to it because people have spoken.”

And Mpombo said President Lungu’s decision to give up half of his salary was nothing and amounted to taking people for a ride.

Vice President Inonge Wina on Friday announced in Parliament that President Lungu had cut his monthly salary by half to lead by example in effecting austerity measures.

“Everyone knows that he (President Lungu) makes more money from his foreign trips. The Head of State, cutting his salary by half, is nothing. What he has done amounts to taking people for a ride because he makes a lot of money from the foreign trips he makes. His salary is nothing compared to the money he draws from his foreign trips. The allowances he gets far outweigh the salary that he gets,” Mpombo said.

“Cutting his salary by half is just a drop in the ocean compared to the huge allowances he gets. And just him cutting his salary by half does not make any impact. What should happen is that the process should start with the entire Cabinet, civil service, so that we can have a meaningful reduction in the wage bill.”

He said salaries for all constitutional office bearers should be reduced.

“There are a lot of things that have to be done if this issue of cutting down of salaries is to make sense. We are talking about cutting down on privileges, foreign trips…there are so many things that the government can do to uplift this country…,” said Mpombo.