Hear us dying, unpaid retirees Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

Ref:

REQUESTING YOU MR PRESIDENT TO CONSTITUTE A COMMISSION TO PROBE NON-PAYMENT OF BENEFITS TO WORKERS RETRENCHED19 YEARS

We write to humbly present to you Your Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata President of Zambia a petition to consider appointing a commission of inquiry to address the plight of thousands of former employees of Government Parastatal companies who were retired over 19 years ago following the MMD Governments implementation of the IMF/World Bank Structural adjustment programme and have to date not been paid their retirement benefits despites repeated pleas to do so.

There were huge and vast sums of moneis realized from the sale of these companies and paid to the former MMD Government yet retirees have not been paid their dues.  What has happened to that money?  Who has pocketed the monies which we were supposed to be paid as our retirement benefits?

Mr. President, we are encouraged to submit this petition to your personally because of the faith that we have in you as a Christian. We have seen during this short period that you have been in State House your commitment to uphold your Christian values and to run a pro-poor listening government which has vowed not to tolerate injustice.

Your Excellency, we the surviving retirees with the help of our children, grandchildren, sympathizers and friends are writing on behalf of many of our colleagues who have since died without getting their retirement benefits.

Allow us in presenting this petition to firstly take this opportunity to congratulate you, your Excellency on your election as the fifth Republican President of the Republic of Zambia. This is a momentous achievement coming from a background where you have all through out your political life been closely associated with the struggle for social justice. Your election to this highest office in the land is a victory for many of us who failed to see justice from the actions of our own government.

Mr. President, as you are aware, at the on set of the second republic, the World Bank recommended economic reforms which included the privatization of many of the Zambian industry as part of the country’s IMF and World Bank led structural adjustment programme. Many Zambian companies and mines were sold to foreign and local investing companies as a strategy to transform the national economy.

Within the process of the restructuring programme many Zambian were caused to loose their employment as the companies were given out to their new owners and others such as the Zambia state insurance corporation were retained with a smaller staff establishment.

It is now, nineteen years since this policy was implemented and to date any thousands of employees who lost their jobs because of this restructuring process have not been paid their retirement benefits.

This has resulted in many of the affected retirees living in destitution and many more have died living behind widows and children orphaned and made vulnerable because of the depressing social and economic circumstances that they found themselves in.

We have on many occasions over the years made presentation to government including marching on the Ministry of Finance and indeed State House.  The MMD Government has responded in a high handed manner by arresting the retirees and throwing them into police cells for making demands on their claim.

In the case of the Zambia State insurance, former retirees have been to the Industrial Relations Court where the ruling was made to their favor. The High Court upheld the decision of the Industrial Relations Court including the Supreme court but management at the Zambia State Insurance have refused to honor the responsibility to pay us our dues.

We are failing to understand why they should fail to pay us while those that joined the companies that we had built continue to draw huge salaries and pay themselves lucrative retirement benefits believe. We find this unfair and a gross violation of our basic human rights as Zambians. We would want to believe that the government has a responsibility that all Zambian are treated fairly with humility, compassion and a sense of equity. Yet our rights as citizens of this country have without regard to the suffering that we are going through been abused by the government which was supposed to protect us.

Your Excellency, it would be interesting to note that our case is only a tip of the ice berg as there as there are many others retrenched from both public and private sector companies and those who are still struggling to receive their pension from the government or quasi government institutions. While MMD government responsible for this callous created the impression to speak for the interest of the poor and vulnerable people in Zambia yet they were as is being disclosed on a daily basis busy amassing wealth.

This is the reason why we want to personally appeal to you, your Excellency to appoint a commission of inquiry that will probe the continued non payment of the thousands of workers that were retrenched by the deposed government.

We trust and pray that you can hear our voices and that of widows, widower’s, orphans, children, grandchildren, sympathizers and friends writing on behalf of many of our colleagues and indeed our parents and grand parent  who have died without getting their retirement benefits to resolve this injustice.

Edwin Sakala

For and on behalf of the many other retirees not present here due to death

15th November 2011

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