CHIEF Government spokesperson Kennedy Sakeni says it is not true that the Government has awarded a 100 per cent salary increment to constitutional office holders.
Mr Sakeni has advised opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema to desist from issuing misleading and inflammatory statements.
Speaking during a Press briefing at his office yesterday, Mr Sakeni, who is Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, said Mr Hichilema in his "fruitless" attempts to popularise himself was now misleading people on serious national matters.
"I wonder where he got the 100 per cent increment he was talking about today (yesterday). He even says that the increments amount to white-collar crime.
"Is he accusing his Members of Parliament (MPs), including those from the MMD, of participating in white-collar crime since they are also beneficiaries?" Mr Sakeni asked.
He said it would be interesting to hear from MMD and UPND MPs on the increments as Mr Hichilema was speaking as if the move was only calculated to benefit PF MPs and the republican President.
"Does it mean that Mr Hichilema is also participating in white-collar crime as the UPND gets support from the MPs?" Mr Sakeni said.
He advised Mr Hichilema to behave in a manner befitting an opposition leader, adding that this was not the first time he was misleading citizens as he was recently on record stating that the Government had sent PF youths for training in Sudan.
When he was challenged, the man has kept quiet. It appears HH believes in misleading the public on serious national matters imagining that this is the quickest way he could popularise himself," Mr Sakeni said.
He said it had been observed that there was a misunderstanding over the salary increments from the President, ministers and Parliamentarians.
Mr Sakeni said those who would have seen the figures would note that the increments did not amount to 100 per cent, which he said was a lie being peddled by some politicians to gain political mileage.
He said it was important to note that the increments for 2009, 2010 and 2011 were done under the MMD regime without any clear policy direction.
"The result has been severe distortions across the three arms of Government, which is the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive.
"As a responsible Government, it was felt that it was important that we respond to these distortions in salaries and conditions by harmonisation," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Sakeni has also refuted reports that Government has started constructing a house for President Michael Sata.
He said the Government was preoccupied with trying to fix the mess left by the MMD administration and had no time to start building a house for Mr Sata who had just been in office for less than a year.
He said the estimates of expenditure as released by the Ministry of Finance and approved by Parliament had no such plans.
Mr Hichilema described the recent increment of salaries for constitutional office bearers as immoral, and that it amounted to "white-collar theft".
He said President Sata had awarded himself an allowance of K80 million which past presidents of the country never had.
He said at a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that it was a sad reality that Mr Sata and his Cabinet had issued Statutory Instrument number 17 of 2012 to increase their salaries by over 100 per cent effective April 1, 2012.
"Mr Sata has further given himself an allowance of K80 million which other past presidents of this country have never received. Is this what he meant by more money in your pockets?" he asked.
Mr Hichilema said there was high youth unemployment, women giving birth on hospital floors, and cotton farmers being given a raw deal, among other issues.
He said Mr Sata was a critic of former presidents Levy Mwanawasa and Ruphiah Banda's administrations over salary increaments and wondered what had now changed.
He described as a serious drain on public funds the continued stay in the country of Malawian High Court Judge, Lovemore Chikopa, saying the President could have saved money by sending the judge back while the courts resolved the tribunal issue.
He also said while the UPND appreciated the creation of a number of districts, it had cost implications.
Mr Hichilema said there was no pact between his party and the former ruling MMD, adding UPND was closely working with other opposition parties not to form a pact but just to strength the opposition.
Mr Hichilema said a strong opposition was among the ingredients of true democracy.
"Yes we are working with the MMD and other political parties in the opposition, but the issue of forming a pact is not there, it's only to strengthen the opposition as you know for true democracy to exist there should be collaboration," he said.