By Aislinn Laing
Mrs Banda reportedly spent 302m Kwacha (£612,000) taking a 42-strong delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York for almost two weeks Photo: GETTY
Joyce Banda, the Malawian President, has slashed her salary by 30 per cent to share in the “difficult times” suffered by her countrymen since she dramatically devalued the currency.
The pay cut will see Mrs Banda’s salary drop from a reported £37,000 a year to £26,000, while her vice president will see a similar reduction.
Inflation in Malawireached 25 per cent in August following the May devaluation of the Kwacha by a third, leaving even the previously affluent now struggling to pay for basics such as fuel, bread and sugar.
“I told Malawians we needed to pass through difficult times,” the 62-year-old head of state told South Africa’s Business Day during a visit to Johannesburg this week.
“I even cut my own salary by 30 per cent to show we are making sacrifices.
“It is a very low salary, but most Malawians are getting just as little as that. So that’s fine, we have a nation to build. Perhaps the next president will get better than that.” The move comes just months after Mrs Banda announced that she would sell off the presidential jet and fleet of luxury cars accumulated by her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in April this year.
It will be lauded by foreign donors, who provide 40 per cent of Malawi’s development budget.
But some Malawians remain sceptical, saying that if the president really wanted to cut costs, she would slow down on the “globetrotting” which has seen her take seven trips in just five months in a bid to woo back donors scared away by Mr Mutharika’s autocratic leadership.
Mrs Banda reportedly spent 302m Kwacha (£612,000) taking a 42-strong delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York for almost two weeks, before travelling on to an investment summit in South Africa and a European Union meeting in Brussels.
John Kapito, chairman of Consumers Association of Malawi, told the Telegraph that the salary cut was a “mockery” while Mrs Banda enjoyed free accommodation, food, staff allowances and travel.
“Most Malawians know that they had to endure a certain amount of pain on the journey to recovery but what’s confusing for them is that the people at the top are still enjoying the same lifestyles they always had,” he said.
Malawi’s ministers are now fearful that they could be forced to take similar cuts to their pay and perks.
One, who did not wish to be named, told the Daily Times newspaper: “We are always the victims. They said they want to take away the Mercs we use.
Where in the world do cabinet ministers work without Mercedes Benz cars?
These are cars with speed, that is why we use them.”
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.