THE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection has urged the government to respect civil servants by paying them on time and abiding by the laws that are stipulated in the employment Act. JCTR stated that it was a pity that the monthly salaries for some civil servants had not been paid and the government has not given a fixed date on when these salaries would be paid.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time salaries are being delayed for institutions like the University of Zambia and the local councils. This is very embarrassing because not only is the government reducing the dignity of workers but is also infringing on their rights and promoting a poor work culture among civil servants. According to Section 48 (2) of the employment Act, wages of an employee should be paid at regular intervals not being later than the fifth day following the date upon which the wages fall due,” JCTR stated.
“Workers’ rights explicitly point out that everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity. Delay of salaries by over five days is a breach of the law by the government and should be highly condemned by all well-meaning citizens.”
JCTR noted that among the causes of the delay in salaries was the huge debt burden, which the country was currently owing and servicing.
“According to the economic and treasury brief for March 2019, ‘As at end of December 2018, external debt stood at USD10.05 billion and domestic debt stood at K58.3 billion’. Beyond debt, the unsympathetic abuse of public funds by those in power has been devastating and has contributed to reduced government coffers resulting in delayed salaries. For instance, the 2017 Auditor General’s Report showed that wasteful expenditure increased from K3,586,879 in 2016 to K7,865,395 in 2017, misappropriation of funds increased from K3,618,127 in 2016 to K5,036,051 in 2017 and irregular payments increased from K1,591,348 in 2016 to K21,791,360 in 2017,” it stated.
JCTR stated that the country had already started experiencing the effects of delayed salaries, lecturers at the University of Zambia have stopped lecturing and would only resume when salaries are paid. It stated that the absence of lecturers affects the education system and compromises the quality of graduates from universities who should contribute to the country’s development. JCTR further noted that the cost of living for a family of five in Lusaka has remained high at K5,331. It stated that the high cost of living had proved to be a challenge for most households, especially the most vulnerable as they were failing to afford basic needs of life.
“Delaying salaries will only worsen poverty levels in our country and promote vices. The JCTR urges the government to respect civil servants by paying them on time and abiding by the laws that are stipulated in the employment Act. The government should lead by example by paying workers on time and upholding the rights of all workers. JCTR also urges the government to balance debt repayment and provision of social services for Zambians. If there is no balance, poverty levels in the country might escalate to high levels that might be difficult to come out of,” stated JCTR. “Lastly, we urge the government to use public funds prudently and ensure that they put up stringent measures that will prevent the high misuse of public funds. In this period of economic distress, fiscal discipline should be the number one priority for the government.”