By the New Generation Party
- 1. POLITICS OF INSULTS AND DISRESPECT
It is unfortunate that politics of insults and disrespect have continued in our country. What is worrying is that this is coming from senior leaders in politics, civil society, professional bodies and even the church.
Our argument is that good governance can only be achieved through mutual respect and tolerance which are lacking in our country despite being the corner stone for development and prosperity. We must respect each other as Zambians; more especially we must respect our leaders.
Zambia is a Christian nation and our number one constitution is the Holy Bible. The bible says in Romans 13 vs. 1 and I quote “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God”. President Banda therefore is ordained and chosen of God. Whether we like Rupiah Banda or not, whether we voted for him or not or whether he gives us hope or not, we must respect him as our president. Yes we can criticize him, but let us do it we respect due to the office of the president.
Those of us aspiring to be presidents of Zambia someday must be in the forefront in showing respect to the office of the president. The saying that we reap what we sow holds water all the time. If we potential presidents insult or disrespect a sitting president we should be rest assured that the same will happen to us immediately we are elected.
I have a message to my fellow young leaders. It seems we are also falling in the same trap of politics of insult and disrespect, which shouldn’t be the case if we are to be better leaders. As young leaders let us respect one another but even more let us respect our elders. One lesson I have learned, bitter as it may be is that in our African culture, when an elderly person uses crude language to us it is discipline but if we use crude language to our elders it is regarded as disrespect and often as insults. Some people are even going to an extent of issuing disrespectful statements towards the First lady just because she is young. People must realize and understand that age is not what matters but the position. Mrs. Thandiwe Banda is our mother in Zambia. We must give respect due to her.
- 2. CIVIL SERVANTS AND THE NATIONAL BUDGET
The revelation and confirmation by president Banda that about 50% of the national budget goes to the personal emoluments for the civil servants is a serious anomaly which must be corrected immediately. What makes the situation even worse is the fact that there are only 170,000 civil servants out of the population of 12 million Zambians and this translates to about 1.5% only. How can 1.5% of the population be eating 50% of the national cake leaving the majority 98.5% to share the other half? This is a scandal and unacceptable.
It is also important to note that, the 50% which goes to the majority does not go directly into their pockets but to infrastructure development and the provision of social services which all enjoy including civil servants.
If we compute the demands by civil servants to have their emoluments increased, the increase comes to K5 million per person multiplied by 170,000 this comes to K850billion which is almost K1trillion. K1trillion is about 10% of the national budget. This means that if what civil servants are demanding is effected, 60% of the national budget will go to them leaving only 40% for the rest of the Zambians.
The civil service needs to be overhauled. Instead of increasing the civil service bill, ways should be found to reduce the wage bill to about 20 – 25% of the national budget at the same time increasing the take home pay for civil servants. This can be done. If I were president instead of giving the 10% increment to the civil servants, I would channel it to youth empowerment, for job creation and education.
- 3. STRIKES AND WORK STOPPAGES
I wish to start by congratulating the civil servants for going back to work. Yes, workers have the right to go on strike but it must be within the confines of the law. The recent strikes should not be condoned because they were done outside the law. The law is very clear workers can go on strike and withhold their labour only after declaring a dispute through their union leaders.
There is no way workers can stay away from work legally after their leaders have signed the collective agreement with the employer and have advised workers to go back to work. This is lawlessness and must not be entertained. Some politicians have been siding with workers even when they know very well that workers are in the wrong, just to gain popularity. This is cheap propaganda not based on principle.
The law stipulates that when a worker stays away from work for 10 days consecutively, he or she is considered a deserter which calls for summary dismissal. We support government’s decision to pay those who did not work. It is common sense; you get paid for work done. It is no work, no pay.
I would like to call upon the striking University of Zambia lectures to reconsider their position and go back to work. Being amongst the learned people in Zambia, they are better positioned to know that there is a global economic recession. Most governments and organizations are reducing costs in order to stabilize their economies. We understand their plight but for them to demand increments at this point in time is wrong timing. We also sacrificing and waiting to see how and when our economy will stabilize. They should therefore go back to work otherwise we will take them as deserters.
- 4. MPS MID-TERM GRATUITY
People are calling upon government not to pay the mid-term gratuity. The president during the press conference did indicate that he was going to consult over the issue. We also wish to add our voice and demand that the president prevails over the members of parliament and not to pay the mid-term gratuity, at least not this year. This is not a matter to be left to the members of parliament to decide. We say so because we have observed that when an issue touches the benefits of MPs, MPs will always put their plight first instead of the nation.
In times like these, were we are experiencing an economic down turn, we must all sacrifice. The leaders, i.e. the president, vice president, ministers etc should be in the four front and lead by example.
We are not saying that the MPs must lose the gratuity NO. We know it is their legal right. What we would like to see is the payment deferred to a future date after we see the direction our economy is heading.
- 5. SALARIES AND WAGES COMMISSION
The ideal of constituting a salaries and wages commission is brilliant. Our target as a nation must be to cut the civil servant’s bill of K5trillion by at least half to K3.5 trillion pay years which comes to 25% of the national budget.
We wish to recommend to the commission to seriously consider recommending legislation for all workers in the country to be paid per hour. It is not a secret that the majority of the civil servants do not put in seriously eight hours work pay per day for which they are paid for. If people are paid per hour, they can plan to work a certain number of hours per day and have freedom to look for second jobs or engage in private businesses. This will also enable ministries and organization to hire only labour they can afford to pay for.
What we therefore need is a law stipulating a minimum hourly rate for all works in Zambia. In American it is $6 per hour. Ours must be realistic taking into consideration the size of our economy.
This will allow the unions to negotiate rate depending on the employers to pay. By so doing people will only be paid for work done. The more hours one works, the more the remuneration.
- 6. CORRUPTION AND PLUNDER
It is very clear now that corruption in this country is deeper than we ever imagined. The K27billion plunder at the Ministry of Health is saddening and it is very clear that it is clear that is just an indication of more money which has been or is being plundered. It is also very clear that the civil servants despite wanting increment and chewing half of the national cake, they are responsible for most of the plunder of public resources. ‘It has come to our attention that plunder of national resources in the civil service is not only in higher offices; it is also rife at the lower levels of the ministries. Because of the higher numbers in the lower ranks, more money is being lost from the lower levels than from the higher offices.
The civil service needs to be overhauled. Those that have over stayed must be retired, same for those who do not give in much effort in their work, should be laid off for qualified youths looming the streets to be taken on. Deliberate efforts must be put in place to change the mind set of the civil servants and the nation as a whole. All cases of corruption must be investigated, not with laxity but swiftly. They should be no sacred cows when investigating cases of corruption and plunder. Whether a case was committed during Dr. Chiluba’s time, during president Mwanawasa’s time or during president Banda’s time, they should be investigated and culprits must be brought to book.
We are affected by the revelation that we have been sued by ABSA Bank and we are paying million dollars as a country for abrogating a contract to do with procurement of fuel. We are calling upon the investigative wings to move in and investigate, persecute and tell us what exactly happened. We cannot be losing millions of dollars without questioning what exactly happened.
It is clear that somebody made a wrong decision which has resulted in the ordinary Zambians paying for that mistake. We want to know the truth because this looks like a case of economic sabotage.
- 7. PF-UPND PACT
I wish to give my personal view on the PF-UPND pact. The pact is not a threat to the New Generation. Unless a miracle happens, the pact is bound to fail. The saying that birds of the same feathers flock together is true. It is very clear with no doubt that the PF and UPND are not of the same feathers and therefore cannot flock together. I will just give five reasons why this pact will fail.
The leaders of the pact, Mr. Sata and Mr. Hichilema are totally too different people with different characters and beliefs. They belong to two different generations with two different mind set. They way Mr. Hichilema looks at issues is totally different from the way Mr. Sata looks at issues. Expecting them to work together is like attempting to mix water and oil.
The manifestos of the two parties do not meet or intersect any where. It is practically impossible to blend the two manifestos.
The ideologies are totally different. For example, UPND is attending the NCC the leadership of PF is against the NCC and is up to this day calling for the dissolution of the NCC.
The forth reason is that UPND is quite democratic but PF has never held any elections whatsoever at any level despite being the strongest opposition party in Zambia.
Finally, it is clear that the only common agenda between PF and UPND is to remove the MMD. But the majority of Zambians want more than just removing the MMD; they want a government which will give them hope for the future, the youths need a government that will provide jobs for them. What I see in a government of the PF-UPND pact is nothing but confusion from the word go.
Humphrey .C. Siulapwa