(By Tobias Phiri and Edwin Mbulo)
UPND President Hakainde Hichilema says misplaced priorities in the PF led government are responsible for the delayed payment of salaries to civil servants. And Hichilema has alleged that the suspension of Kabwe Municpal Council workers by the government is a dictatorial move. Hichilema, who was commenting on the delayed salaries for some civil servants and consequent suspension of some council workers who protested against six months salary arrears, said delaying salaries had now become a habit.
“The decision by the PF regime to suspend 74 striking Kabwe Municipal Council workers who were demanding their six months salary arrears is uncalled for and stinks of dictatorship,” Hichilema said.
“It has now become a habit to delay salaries for civil servants, public service employees and worse off, the council employees around the country. All this is due to lacking priorities in expenditure as the money is being channelled into funding corruption and lavish lifestyles such as procuring customised private jets when people are suffering.”
Hichilema charged that delayed salaries were only making the economic hardships even worse for the citizens.
“The cost of essential commodities such as mealie-meal, and now with the proposed increase in the cost of electricity is already unbearable for majority of our citizens, but it’s being worsened by delayed salaries. The negative effects of such economic problems being inflicted on our people is rising crime levels and encouraging corruption in the country, such as illegal sale of land by our civic authorities,” said Hichilema who further charged that: “This is the same corruption that is humiliating our citizens during PF induced by-elections where people are being made to line up for handouts in exchange for votes. Pay our workers on time and avoid industrial unrest.”
Last week Kabwe council workers protested against delayed salaries.
PF cadres unleashed on the protesting workers who even emptied refuse bins at the civic centres, assaulted some of them.
Meanwhile, Lackson Kazabu said the PF government should not expect workers who have not been paid their salaries for months to be happy.
A former Kitwe mayor and also deputy minister of agriculture and livestock, Kazabu said it was disheartening to see many public Zambian workers reporting for work despite not being paid.
“The people who are precipitating workers’ go slows or work stoppages is the government, which has failed to pay them what is due to them. Salaries are not a privilege but a right, so the PF government should not expect these workers who have not been paid for months can smile or be happy,” Kazabu said.
He added that it was shocking to see Kabwe Council workers and others countrywide full of energy and reporting for work.
Kazabu, however, wondered how long workers could continue working without being paid or getting paid late.
“For how long will we have this breakdown in government ability to pay workers? Our forefathers who fought for Independence are turning in their graves, I don’t know how many times. Yet government has money to fund by-elections! I sympathise with them. We have empathy for them, but they must soldier on as hope is on the horizon,” said Kazabu.