Democracy dies in the dark. And so does common sense. We are highlighting the actions of an out-of-control government agency in the hope that this conversation will help steer our country towards some kind of fairness, rationality and common sense in administrative bodies. Those who hold the President of our Republic to account must never shy away from holding to account other bodies subsidiary to his office. While, ultimately, President Lungu is responsible for everything obtaining in the governmental organisations and other executive bodies, the demand for accountability does not end with the President. All agencies that are creatures of our constitution must be held responsible, and it is the people of Zambia, the ordinary people of Zambia who must freely speak out against injustice and nonsense.
The Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) is a creature of our constitution. It is enshrined in articles 227 and 228 of the Constitution of Zambia. Its duties include constituting offices in the Local Government Service and ensuring the efficient and effective functioning of local authorities. However, what is currently obtaining in the Commission betrays the very tenets of the constitution. The LGSC has become a terror to workers. If the LGSC is left alone, morale in councils around the country will be affected.
What is obtaining at the Commission is embarrassing and at most, completely irrational. There is no reason why a creature of our constitution and government should be this silly in the discharge of its functions. It appears like the Commissioners together with their chair, are either incompetent or drunk with power. Either way, it is up to the people of Zambia to provide checks and balances to their own institutions, including the LGSC. Governmental bodies are not personal to holder agencies of its occupiers. These agencies and commissions are there to satisfy and fulfil their legislated mandate. Those who occupy offices must exercise power reasonably.
The Commission has been transferring people at will and in a way that lacks a stable connection with the objects of the Commission. They are moving both high level and low-level staff without due regard to common sense or procedural fairness. There really is no logical reason why the Commission should transfer a third of a council’s workforce and spread them to other councils around the country. How can you justify transferring 105 workers and reassigning them to other districts? It appears like the Commission is exercising power for the sake of it, and not for any legitimate objective and purpose.
In terms of cost, how would you justify transferring a lowly paid council worker from Livingstone to Katete? Such a move would require settling in allowances which are unjust and gross. A country that is struggling to pay back the Chinese kaloba, cannot reasonably afford to transfer workers for the sake of satisfying the Commissioner’s secret fetish for power.
The Commission seems to be retiring a lot of Lozi and Tonga citizens of our republic. The catch phrase being used at the moment is “in the national interest”. We find it strange that the Commission would retire a middle-level council manager in the national interest. What is that national interest that would make the Commission retire a young middle-level manager? To the Tongas and the Lozis of our country, kindly do note that anyone who marginalises you in the name of national interest, is doing so in their interest. As a country, we must keep the unitary fidelity of our constitution that respects the diversity of thought, tribe and creed. It cannot be a public service which is filled with only one tribe or two.
The Commission’s actions seem to be predicating from an assumption that they do whatever they want with the power they have. Well, they cannot. If the Commission intends to continue playing with people’s lives, Zambians have the duty to hold the Commission accountable. How does Zambia benefit from an irrational transfer of personnel? Husbands are being torn from their wives and children. Wives are also being transferred without due regard to the status of their families. While it is proper to say that the government only employees one spouse and not the other, we find it irrational for the Commission not to take family conditions into account when transferring personnel from one council to another, the Commission must, as much as possible, try to unite families rather than separate them. The nation is better served that way. Zambia is a Christian nation, and this Commission needs no reminding that it is Christian to try to keep families together, as much as possible and so far, as it is within the power of the Commission to do so.
If the Commission continues acting irrationally with irrational transfers and retirements in the national interest, we will be calling upon all women and men of goodwill to register their displeasure directly to the Commission and the chief executive of the Republic. President Lungu must be vigilant at all times to ensure that those who are exercising power in the president’s name do not go on rampage satisfying their secret fetish of constitutional authority. Should the Commission fail or neglect to change: we all must have only one request: that they all resign and, in their place, Zambia appoints women and men willing to serve the republic and the local government in a selfless manner.
Elias Munshya is a Zambian practising civil litigation and regulatory law in Alberta, Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.