Govt top brass, MPs should take voluntary pay cuts

THE urgent health crisis brought about by the novel coronavirus has created a historic recession with record levels of deprivation and unemployment, creating an unprecedented human crisis that is hitting the poorest hardest particularly in smaller economies such as ours.

While this is well acknowledged, the need to put lives over rewards becomes a significant trait that we should all embrace in our quest to not only beat the invisible enemy that is Covid-19, but to also pull each other out of the trenches that the economy has pushed most of us into.

Across the socio-economic divide, we have already seen many companies that have cut salaries and made adjustments to be able to retain those in their employ while at the same time saving some money to deploy to the frontlines of the Covid-19 fight.

It is with a strong conviction of our Namibian nature that we call on government’s most highly paid politicians to show ‘leadership and solidarity’ with workers in the rest of the country by taking voluntary pay cuts with proceeds from this channelled towards fighting the now resurgent Covid-19 pandemic that threatens us all with shortened life cycles.  We specifically refer to Members of Parliament, Cabinet ministers as well as other high ranking officials.

If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across Namibia in different positions, it is now. Our fellow top politicians who owe their positions to the electorate must also take a cue from President Hage Geingob who was among the first people to pledge towards this cause, donating N$250 000 towards a solidarity fund meant to fight Covid-19.

These voluntary pay cuts will also follow Namibian corporate leaders who have already stepped up and donated to vulnerable communities. It is also crucial to state that pay cuts are important, not merely as a symbol of solidarity. They may not amount to much in the life of individual politicians, but if their redistribution is well managed, they could make a substantial difference to tens of thousands of people.

Due to the very fact that tracking progress and adherence to commitments such as donations and pledges is almost impossible, the voluntary pay cut route is the most feasible way in which we will see real commitment and leadership from those verily posed as vanguards of our society particularly when they seek our votes in election season.

Most certainly, they can afford to shoulder a little of the burden. And if they do take the pay cut, it could actually help their political careers if Namibians believe the move is sincere.

At the end of it all, the rush to salary ‘sacrifices’ by most including those who are extraordinarily highly paid in our society should focus our minds on how to permanently change the system that supports Namibia’s extreme wage inequality, a system that desperately needed reform long before the onset of Covid-19.