The President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, who is widely regarded as one of Zambia’s wealthiest businessmen with a reported net worth of nearly $390 million, announced today that he has not received any salary payments since taking office in August.
Prior to becoming Zambia’s president, Hichilema, who made his fortune through farming and cattle ranching, spoke out against salary increases for the president and government ministers.
“It appears the salaries of the President, Ministers, among others have been increased. This is an insult to the common Zambian that is struggling to buy food. I’d rather give the people the money than to raise my pay.”Hakainde Hichilema
It appears the salaries of the President, Ministers, among others have been increased. This is an insult to the common Zambian that is struggling to buy food. I'd rather give the people the money than to raise my pay.— Hakainde Hichilema (@HHichilema) April 15, 2021
While confirming that he has been working for free since taking office, Hichilema claimed that he had “not paid attention” to his salary because he was focused on how to “improve the lives of the people.”
According to national media, the country’s Finance Ministry previously stated that Hichilema has not been paid since becoming president in August 2021, after winning the presidential election.
Hichilema’s decision is still being seen by some as a humane gesture amid a tough economic period for the country but is not an entirely new idea in Zambia.
There was however no indication that Hichilema had given up other presidential benefits. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, Malawi’s Lazarus Chakwera, and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta are among the African leaders who have taken pay cuts in the last two years.