SOME civil servants have taken the provincial decree for everyone in the public service to be running 12 kilometres every Friday morning as
being dictatorial and tantamount to asking workers to eat and drink President Edgar Lungu brands.
According to a circular dated May 17 signed by Southern Province permanent secretary Mwangala Liomba copied to the Regional Formation
Commander, Zambia Army, ZNS commanding officer, regional commanding officer Correctional Services, police commissioner, all district commissioners, departmental and parastatal heads, public workers based in Choma have been directed to be reporting to the golf club every morning at 05:30 hours for the 12 kilometre runs.
“As you may be aware, our able and fit, leader, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has directed by way of leading by example in his periodic morning runs that Zambia shall be fit. In compliance with President Lungu’s guidance, and the interest of the promotion of wellbeing and fitness levels of all public workers and the general public, the provincial administration has decreed Fridays from
05:30 – 09:00 hours for routine 12-km morning runs to be followed by aerobics,” the circular from Liomba reads in part.
Liomba advised the workers to report for the morning runs in appropriate attire to “endure the race.”
He further directed that all senior officers at provincial and district levels shall always be among the officers that would lead the morning
routine runs aimed at improving wellness and combat non-communicable diseases.
“All district commissioners are hereby advised to implement this useful health behaviour routine in their districts,” stated Liomba.
But civil servants said just because President Edgar Lungu eats or drinks a certain brand of food or beer should not be the reason for everyone to do the same.
“This is dictatorial; how does someone say we have decreed that we should be running 12 kilometres every Friday…the PS (permanent secretary) needs to understand the meaning of the word decree. Let him check in the English Oxford Dictionary the meaning of this word. It simply implies that at all costs the decision must be carried out. So what will happen if we don’t abide by this? He needs to withdraw the letter and write another one which will be in good taste. Next we will hear that all because the Head of State eats or drinks this brand of food or beer then we are all supposed to do so,” complained a worker.
However, Liomba said that no one was being forced to participate in the Friday 12-kilometre runs.
“We are actually only saying that those that can participate should do so, but if they have health complications such as diabetes, they should
stay away. We are simply saying it’s for your good health, but if your health fails you, please stay away,” he said.
“The Head of State has set an example and we are encouraging people to do the same. I, for an example, have started to do exercise in my own
bedroom but using a skipping rope and doing press ups and sit-ups on a mat,” said Liomba.