HAKAINDE Hichilema says the PF government is “ducking and diving” the responsibility to pay Zambia State Insurance Corporation retirees.
The UPND leader says the government is in a financial position to pay the retirees their terminal benefits of over K34 million.
He, however, indicated that the government was disinterested in cancelling the owed amounts.
On April 30, 1994, ZSIC retrenched about 1,100 of its employees.
Those retirees today say they are owed terminal benefits amounting to K34,470,336.74.
ZSIC retirees’ committee chairperson Pule Mwila and Copperbelt chapter chairperson Toddy Shadunka were at the UPND secretariat in Lusaka.
The duo complained that myopic government leadership had led to untold hardships and misery among ZSIC retirees.
At a media briefing at the opposition party’s secretariat, Hichilema said: “the government in office had failed to address critical issues of retirees.”
“Citizens have been struggling for 28 years to get that which belongs to them and they are not given an ear. We cannot talk about the different leaders in MMD but the role of the government is to take responsibility,” Hichilema noted.
“It’s not correct for the PF to say it was an MMD government issue, no! Zambia has seen too much skirting around, ducking and diving and passing on the responsibility to people who are not in a position to solve the problem. PF are in a position to solve these problems, to pay these retirees.”
He reiterated that the PF government had no interest in the welfare of Zambians.
“PF sought public office not to take care of the people of Zambia but to look after themselves in a greedy way. You can see the corruption!” he said.
He added that the current administration chose to waste available public resources on “useless ventures” at the expense of paying retirees.
“[They] are stealing money through corruption; borrowing expensive money which they did not use on worthwhile causes but chose to use that money to construct low-quality [structures] which are already wearing out,” Hichilema said.
The opposition leader wondered how a sensible government could opt to buy a presidential jet at over US$100 million, instead of attending to the plight of retirees.
“What you are looking for here (to pay ZSIC retirees), in the context of things, is a small amount of money. But one individual, to his pleasure, goes to spend public money meant to pay retirees [on] a personal jet. Then they add more money which they call enhancements on that plane!” Hichilema lamented, adding that he was extremely touched by the retirees’ predicament.
He pledged that it would be the priority of a UPND government to pay ZSIC retirees and that: “the money is there.”
“Hakainde doesn’t need that presidential jet, UPND doesn’t need that jet. If it means, and we agree that we’ll travel on commercial flights in order to realise money to pay ZSIC retirees and other retirees, we’ll do it.
“But we shouldn’t wait until that time because more people will die. It doesn’t have to wait for that time…. Honestly speaking, a subject like this, if you are not touched then you are not a normal human being.”
Hichilema further said: “I can safely say that Mr Lungu and his ministers are not normal human beings. If they were normal human beings, they would have been touched [and] they would have addressed this matter [of ZSIC retirees].”