The Zambia Union of Journalists says government is showing favoritism by clearing ZNBC employees’ salaries whilst neglecting their colleagues at Times of Zambia who have gone a longer period without being paid.

In a statement issued by ZUJ president Shamaoma Musonda, Thursday, the ministry has been paying a blind eye to the issues at the Times Printpak which have been going on for over four years now.

“The Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has noted with great concern what it perceives as favouritism from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services concerning emolument issues at the institutions that are under the government umbrella. This is in relation to a statement issued by the Ministry of Information acting Permanent Secretary Mr Beaton Kaluba on Wednesday March 14, 2018 that government has released more than K10m towards the costs of salaries for the employees at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZBNC). While ZUJ is happy that colleagues at the ZNBC have had their issues resolved, it remains extremely disturbed that the same Ministry has been paying a blind eye to the issues at the Times Printpak which have been going on for over four years now. At ZNBC, the salary arrears are less than a month while at Times of Zambia employees are owed up to seven months in arrears and this is matter that the Ministry of Information is well aware of and as ZUJ we spoken to them about it on several occasions but nothing has been done. The problem of arrears at the Times Printpak has been around and in public domain for a long time but the ministry has not cared to address them. But when another wing of the ministry complains, it has jumped to address their concerns in less than a month,” Musonda stated.

Musonda stated that Times of Zambia employees were demoralised.

“We are made to believe that all public media institutions are the ‘children’ of the government and as such the cake must be shared equitably. However, this kind of selectiveness in the distribution of funds by the ministry to the public institutions is highly demoralizing because employees have been putting in a lot of work under difficult conditions yet their arrears keep on escalating. It is further disturbing when an organ as important as Parliament is misinformed that employees at the Times Printpack are sometimes paid twice a month when the reality is the opposite. If employees are paid twice a month, why would arrears be increasing? About a year ago, arrears were at four months but they have escalated to eight months. We ask for honesty and sincerity from people who inform the Minister about the unfortunate happenings at the Times of Zambia. We believe involving all parties including the union who are key stakeholders is the best way to get accurate information. The Ministry of Information should address problems at the Times of Zambia with the same urgency it dealt with one month salary arrears at the public broadcaster. We are now wondering whether government wants work at the Times of Zambia to be halted for them to intervene,” Musonda stated.

Musonda advised government to collect all the money that Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail are owed.

“We also urged government through the Ministry of Finance to collect about K11 million that the Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail are owed by various government institutions through unpaid for advisements. This debt has been outstanding for some time now and it can go a long way in sorting out problems at the two biggest newspapers in the country. These salary arrears have led to untold misery for the employees whose salaries are also among the lowest compared to other similar government institutions,” stated Musonda.