Find us on Google+

Saturday, 16 August 2014


“Members of parliament go through difficulties and I know the distances because I travel across the country myself, if we want MPs to serve the people to the degree that we expect them and promote democracy and interact with the people we should facilitate...How do we facilitate that, we facilitate that through emoluments. If you want to curb corruption, to ensure that our MPs do not fall in category of people who do not have the interest of people at heart then we should look at the issue of emoluments. You can justify the demands [for a pay rise].”
(PF Secretary General)

There are three problems with. Kabimba's misguided argument.

First, Kabimba argues that additional wages would reduce corruption among parliamentarians. That is a myth. Empirical evidence decisively concludes that the "systematic evidence on the relationship between pay and corruption is ambiguous". Most importantly, paying higher wages reduces corruption, if and only if, the monitoring apparatus is effective. In other words, wage incentives might reduce bribery and corruption but only under a well functioning enforcement apparatus. This apparatus is essentially good effective institutions. Lets get the ACC and DEC be more accountable in following up parliamentary corruption. This is what Kabimba should focus on, and then we can look at higher wages if necessary.

Secondly, Kabimba argues that additional wages would make MPs "promote democracy and interact with the people". In other words they would better able to do their jobs or act more professionally. This seems a rather foolish reason for increasing wages. Just how will giving them more money make them promote democracy and interaction? Will they spend the money on democracy courses? Or perhaps we expect them to throw parties and invite people? Or may be they will acquire time management skills? Parliamentary professionalism emerges out of the greater need to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competing bunch. More electoral competition delivers better MPs.

Finally, here is an important point for economists. To ask Government to pay MPs higher and higher wages as a way of introducing greater professionalism is not sound economics. Aside from the second point above, its also extremely counter intuitive. Its like asking Government to give more money to poorly performing companies! If Kabimba had said we need performance based pay one would understand! But he is saying all MPs are so poor at their jobs that they need more money to become better! This is intellectual folly.

Chola Mukanga 
Economist | Consultant | Researcher 
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2014


  1. I couldn't agree more Dr Mukanga. It's not really a surprised Hon Wynter Kabimba MP has never won an election: who would vote for this kind of self-serving policy? Can you spot the irony? "I've not ever receieved a mandate from any constituency to become an MP, but now I am one, would you mind giving me a pay rise?"... Oh and in the meantime I'll do all I can to deter Foreign Direct Investment, I'll splinter the Cabinet into an irrecoverable state of paraliysis and then find the time to give a totally incoherent interview to the Bulletin & Record".

    A plea; and Mr Kabimba as a lawyer you will have heard a few: please; pretty please: take your undoubted talents elsewhere, Zambia has business to do.

    Fred Member

  2. I see two questions here:

    one is sheer cost. When PF came to power, HE Michael Sata spoke about the proportion of the budget spent on central government. From memory, he said about 70%, and said he'd do something about it. Of course all of the extra government posts, Vice Ministerships and civil service pay rises has made it worse. Now my guess is that with the service on the two Eurobonds, pretty much all of the national budget is spent in Lusaka.

    the second is about performance. PF introduced a body - can't recall the acronym but HE Guy Scott launched it at the Radisson - to monitor government performance. Thats a job normally done by the press or the opposition, but maybe this is more accurate. However, I haven't seen any reports from this body, and from the press, government performance doesn't seem great.

    It is, of course, the Lee Kuan Yiew model of governance - pay your public servants very good wages, but be very clear that any sign of corruption will mean that that person never works again. Its been successful in Singapore, but you have to be clear on what happens when somebody errs.


All contributors should follow the basic principles of a productive dialogue: communicate their perspective, ask, comment, respond,and share information and knowledge, but do all this with a positive approach.

This is a friendly website. However, if you feel compelled to comment 'anonymously', you are strongly encouraged to state your location / adopt a unique nick name so that other commentators/readers do not confuse your comments with other individuals also commenting anonymously.