Government says it will not tolerate civil servants leaking classified information to the media any more and has since resolved to spy on all public workers through the Smart Zambia surveillance system.
At a media briefing, Wednesday, Civil Service Commission Chairperson Dickson Chasaya warned civil servants against discussing government business on social media saying it was against their codes of conduct.
He also said anyone below the rank of permanent secretary was not allowed to speak to the media on any matter without express permission.
“I have called this press briefing for only one thing and that thing is the civil servant and social media. I will provide guidance to the civil servant. We answer one name only, we are civil servants. But who is is civil servant? The English say you cannot serve a mater you don’t know. The answer [to] the name of civil servant and yet they don’t know what it means. Perhaps we have had no Shepard. If a civil servant knows what he is supposed to do and what he is, they are not supposed to discuss government matters through the press. Anyone below the rank of a permanent secretary should not interact with the press,” Chasaya said.
“They should not discuss any matter in the press let alone social media. A civil servant is one, 7/24 (24/7) but he has been let loose. I want to be a good Shepard for the civil servant…We have all the pamphlets where all the rules and regulations are. Maybe we have no time to read them. This is why we are engaging the civil servants so that we move together with the civil servants. I am saying anyone below the rank of permanent secretary should not engage himself with the press. There shall be consequences for any civil servant, and we have got Smart Zambia, we can trace you.”
Asked if any civil servants had been punished for discussing government secrets so far and if there were any regulations on social media in people’s contracts, Chasaya said; “In my opening remarks, I said the civil servant had no shepard. He has not been properly supervised. I am a very good listener of radio and television and I read a lot. We see these things. Even the gentleman who was asking has seen and some people have complained about civil servants trying to interact in the media. Social media you have said, our catching word is media. Nobody, whether new or morden, we don’t discuss government business openly. These are bedroom maters if it was in the marriage. So media is media, whether new or old, it is media. Government cannot be run through the media!”
“And the people who are supposed to talk to you like this are those in management positions…we have not punished anybody yet. For us media nibapongozi (is an in-law). We don’t want to discus these things openly, nibapongozi. Even the marriage will end. Anything that is discussed in the bedroom is already outside, what kind of marriage is that?”
He asked civil servants to separate government matters from their personal lives.
“When you are socialising it is a private life but don’t put government matters in your social life. That is what we are against! You can socialise, you can go to weddings and everywhere but again, mind the people you socialise with. As a government officer, you should mind which places you go to, which people do you meet? For us those are ethics. You are not supposed to be found anywhere anyhow, no!” Chasaya said.
He said people had been complaining about the conduct of civil servants for a long time.
Chasaya emphasised that being a civil servant was like being married to government and as such, bedroom matters were meant to remain in the bedroom.
“Perhaps the civil servant is like in a marriage. They require utmost attention; we shall provide that attention to you. Wherever you are, just know that we are together, you are serving 24/7 so careful the way you behave yourselves.
This is why, because you have been using the media, I thought we should interact with you in the media. Thereafter, we shall be coming in the ministries, provinces and everywhere. Had it not been for this, what has been happening, we would have been in Chipata by now,” said Chasaya.
“Permanent secretaries, do your work. Make sure you supervise, including the directors of human resource, you are there for a purpose; guide these civil servants.”