When I look at my payslip this month and realise how much Pay As You Earn is deducted, I think I am going to shed a tear. Because while I am staying in a cottage some Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and of course the CEO of Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL), Prof. Clive Chirwa are staying at the luxurious Fallsways Villas. Paying according to the dissolved ZRL board wait for it ... KR 72, 000 jaw drop per month or as Prof. Clive Chirwa says it’s KR 38, 000, he was able to negotiate. Olo ni negotiating sure almost 50% drop. I choose to believe the boards figure for now. What was supposed to be an internal affair among the dissolved board which comprises Prof. Oliver Saasa and Mark Chona among other notables, the government and Prof. Clive Chirwa, has opened up a Pandora’s Box.
The dirty laundry of ZRL is being aired in public and we now smell the stink. It is no top secret that ZRL was a collapsed parastatal with hardly any trains to boast of and the rail tracks hardly traceable. A number of people had tried to resuscitate the dying railways but had succumbed to the enormity of the task. Then in what came as a shock in November 2012, Prof. Clive Chirwa was announced as the next candidate to take the reins of the parastatal. A shocker it was indeed. It will either be one of his greatest achievements or one of the biggest dents in his glowing resume. A lot has clouded Clive in the past few days and the tussle between the dissolved board and him is being played out in the media. Why not just enter a boxing ring and settle this once and for all? Maybe and this is a small maybe, Clive is being unfairly judged and some choose to believe this is why?
Black vs White
Many people are saying that because Prof. Clive Chirwa is black that is why so much dust is being raised. Had he been a white man then we would have all shut up and said it is fine. The point in case Herve Renard, a coach who just won a simple Africa Cup for a country that had been craving to be champions for decades. Why on earth does he deserve to be paid KR 500, 000 per month and the muntu Prof. Clive Chirwa should not.
Is this just a case of the Pull Him Down Syndrome? Are we Zambians that jealous of each other that each time someone tries to have a taste of success we want to drag them down? Prof. Clive Chirwa could merely be a victim of the PhD Syndrome and we want him to live in poverty like the rest of us. We are happy if we are at par with each other that way no one can boast to be ahead of the other. And based on this gentleman’s resume he clearly is miles ahead.
Too Bad if You Can’t Bargain
You have to give it to the man; he knows how to strike a good bargain. Next time I am bargaining for a salary I want his lawyers. He put his terms on the table and the government had a choice whether to accept them or not. Lo and behold, they accepted. Perhaps it should not be Clive that we should be lynching but the person that agreed to his terms. About KR 250, 000 per month salary with allowances, six air tickets for his wife to Europe, an annual bonus of KR 2, 600, 000 annual bonus and if he had his way 25% stake in ZRL after five years. Now which honest soul among you would refuse such an offer?
Become a Professor
Do not blame the man for being highly educated. He must be able to reap the benefits of all his sleepless nights. It includes are the perks he negotiated for and stay in KR 72, 000 per month accommodation. I would like to see what the toilet stool looks like for KR 72, 000 it better be made of gold. If Ministers and Permanent Secretaries can rest their feet on sofas of the plush accommodation, Clive is equally special to do the same. Besides he needs to rest that special brain in arguably the most expensive real estate in this country.
A Bitter Board Maybe?
Could it be that the dissolved board are just bitter that they were not able to eat such a huge pie too? I mean how long has Prof. Chirwa being in that position for, close to four months plus. They cannot claim that they did not know what his package was, why did they have to wait to be dissolved before telling the nation all this. And according to the professor they are vexed because he refused to sign cheques for their sitting allowances, according to the professor there were 28 sittings in a space of three months. If this is true what on earth was the board discussing for 28 sittings, where to spend the next vacation maybe?
Frustrated Brotha’s Verdict
At this moment there are so many versions to this story that is hard to tell who is telling the truth and who is not. The board will tell you one thing and the professor will tell his own version of events. Therefore, it is very difficult to come to a conclusion on this matter. I have taken some time to internalise this and I have come to this. Prof. Clive Chirwa is a good man perhaps with good intentions for ZRL but his biggest Achilles heel was to think that he could live the life he led in the United Kingdom in Zambia. It is almost criminal to expect what someone earns in the UK to be earned in a developing country like Zambia. They are two different standards of living in almost all aspects. Arguably, the most ridiculous thing was the request for 25% stake in ZRL after five years. So based on his thinking he wanted 25% for him and his family while the rest of the 13 million Zambians should share the remainder of 75%, thats absurd. When it comes to the pay package, I think he does deserve it and if he negotiated for it good for him. The person we should be seeking clarification and justification from is the person who signed his contract. They should have had very good reasons to accept such a salary request. As for the accommodation part, hmmmm give me a moment while I wipe away this tear. Prof. Clive Chirwa probably told us one of the most guarded secrets, some Ministers and Permanent Secretaries are staying at Fallsway Villas. Thank You Clive for the info. Now I know where my PAYE goes. In all this mess, all I wish for is that some of the wrongs that are there would be made right. Parastatal information such as appointments, finances need to be open to the public. I also pray that the $120 million Eurobond will not be used to send someone on vacation to the Bahamas.
Oh by the way Prof. Clive in case you read this, I need to borrow your lawyers to negotiate my next pay.