THE Pan-African Institute for Development, East and Southern Africa (PAID-ESA) employees have written to President Edgar Lungu demanding their terminal benefits and accrued salary arrears.
In a letter dated January 13, 2021 signed by PAID-ESA administrative and technical staff council chairperson Alick Ngoma, the workers stated that they were owed substantial amounts of US $2,000,000 in unpaid salaries and benefits.
“We the former workers of the Pan-African Institute for Development, East and Southern Africa (PAID–ESA) in Kabwe wish to bring to your attention the injustice the former workers have suffered. The number of former Zambian workers which was above 50 has dwindled to less than 30,” the letter reads, in part.
They added loss of employment for most of them meant forced re-location, failure to send children to school/college and premature death due to destitution, among other desolations.
The workers stated that at time of its closure by the Zambian government and subsequent take-over in October 2010, PAID-ESA was experiencing financial problems due to the withdrawal of the donors.
They added that they were owed substantial amounts in unpaid salaries, leave days, long service bonuses and un-remitted NAPSA contributions in excess of $2,000,000.00.
“In October, 2015, the Institute’s secretariat in Douala, Cameroon sent an emissary, Dr Anthony Lindsay Hagan the first director of PAID-ESA (1979 to 1993), whose task, among many others, was to get back the Institute’s campus and other residential properties being occupied by government agencies, Nkrumah University and DEC,” Ngoma stated.
Ngoma noted that efforts to meet President Lungu could not materialise, since last year in October.
“Mr Hagan had a privilege to talk with Your Excellency for about 12 minutes on the phone, courtesy of Mr Simamba on Monday 26 October, 2015. You asked Mr Hagan why PAID had not been writing to you directly then assuring Mr Hagan of the return of the campus to PAID,” read the letter. “With that assurance, PAID appointed a new director to restore normalcy and the government goodwill was exemplified by the restoration of the diplomatic status on PAID-ESA. Sadly, all the efforts by the new Director, Dr. Billy Lubansa through the provincial minister and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an appointment with you to follow up on the status of the campus have proved futile to date.”
Ngoma appealed to the President to help resolve the matter.
“Our appeal Your Excellency is for you to redeem us from this suffering. Special consideration maybe required on your part to consider to hand back the PAID-ESA campus to PAID for it to continue its mandate given by the donors who built the campus for the benefits of the East and Southern African region and to avoid an international and diplomatic scandal that can tarnish your image and that of Zambia. PAID is ready to begin to pay us once they have the campus back and start operations,” he stated.
“Or repeal Cabinet decision of August, 2020 not to pay us our dues because the government through Nkrumah University has occupied the premises that belong to PAID, therefore government should justifiably consider offsetting PAID’s liabilities.”
The Pan African Institute for Development, East and Southern Africa (PAID-ESA) was registered in Zambia as non-governmental institution in 1978.
As a regional institute, it was catering for countries in the East and Southern African region.
Its sister institutes in Cameroon (Buea, Douala) and Burkina Faso were catering for the West African and Sahel regions.
It was conferred diplomatic status by the Zambian government through Statutory Instrument No.181 of 1979.
It built its campus in Kabwe through donor funding by international agencies, namely NORAD, CIDA, Netherland, Switzerland and German governments.