Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) says government must fire corrupt public officers and seize their assets in order to provide hope to the labour force who toil on a daily basis.
And NGOCC has lamented that the few Zambians in the formal sector are made to pay many taxes despite wages being relatively low.
Meanwhile, Media Institute for Southern Africa says government must allow journalists to work without intimidation.
In a statement to commemorate Labour Day issued Monday, TIZ executive director Wesley Chibamba observed that rampant corruption had demoralized Zambians.
“As TIZ we believe that this day symbolises gratitude, appreciation, love and caring to the people that contribute to the social and economic advancements that have been recorded not only in Zambia but world over by the labourers. No country can progress without the most important resource, the human capital. This year’s theme is “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement” and we feel it is speaking to us to rethink our strategies to help change the performance of our economy. However, for us to realise our theme, we must ensure that corruption, mal administration, poor governance, selfishness and greed are eliminated at every level of service provision, be it in private or public institutions. It is only true that the only way we can achieve social and economic advancement is if we eliminate the impunity with which public institutions are pilfering public resources at the expense of the labor force and the Zambian people at large. Every year public resources are being lost due to bad stewardship by those charged with managing public resources. Year in year out we are urging the government to be more responsible and safe guard tax payers’ money. But, as if to spit on those calling for accountability, that is when they are losing more money to avoidable mischief’s like misapplication of funds, misappropriation, as well as procurement of goods and services above the normal market price, such as the purchase of the questionable 42 million-dollar fire trucks,” Chibamba stated.
“Government officials are engaged in legal wastage of resources such carrying an unreasonably huge delegation on international trips including party cadres who have no government business on these official trips. This kind of legal wastage of resources is very disheartening and demotivating to an average labourer in the Zambian labour market. People begin to feel their efforts to develop the nation are only benefitting a select few who are either in government or closely related to those in power. Ordinary Zambians get demoralised when the fruit of their labour not benefitting them and their families. This is why on this year’s Labour Day we are calling government to be more responsible, responsive and accountable to the hard working citizens of this country.”
He asked government to fire corrupt civil servants in order to provide hope to Zambians.
“On this important day we call on government to look into the affairs of the labour force and give the people hope by firing public officers who are found wanting. Misappropriation is theft and requires the culprits to be fired, arrested and seizure of their properties/assets effected, pending forfeiture to the state after exhaustion of legal processes. It is only when we deal with problems that will appreciate the work that the labour force puts in and at the point we will realise their worth,” stated Chibamba.
“We can surely avoid many things as a people. TIZ and indeed other like minded organisations talks about these things and if indeed this government is a listening one it would have dealt with those found wanting in the Auditor General’s reports, cited corrupt cabinet ministers and permanent secretaries. Our cry is simple, if this country is to grant social and economic advancement to its labour force and the people of Zambia, a lot of cleaning up needs to be done at all levels of the civil service. This too should apply to the private sector who seemingly get away with their corrupt acts.”
And NGOCC executive director Engwase Mwale complained about high taxes in a separate statement.
“Without doubt, workers continue to play a critical role in the country’s development agenda. NGOCC, however, remains deeply concerned that the few workers in the formal sector in Zambia continue to face a number of challenges. Apart from the fact that wages remain relatively low to sustain their livelihoods, workers in Zambia are heavily taxed through the various tax regimes. In the meantime, equity and accountability in public service delivery remains a pipedream going by the trends in reported public service misapplications and misappropriation of resources. According to the latest Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), Basic Needs Basket, a family of six needs a little more than K5,200 to meet their homestead basic necessities. This remains unattainable for most households. In most cases it is the women and girls’ unique livelihood needs such as sanitary pads and other hygienic requirements that get impacted due to unaffordability,” stated Mwale.
“Therefore going by the above situation and statistics, Labour Day will be irrelevant if the plight of workers is not addressed. As we commemorate this day we therefore appeal to employers to ensure that they have the best interest of the workers at heart. For those workers that work in hazardous environments, it is important that their safety is addressed.”
Meanwhile, MISA Zambia chairperson Hellen Mwale asked government to protect journalists and improve their working standards.
“Among the workers that face a tough operating environment are media workers who face both archaic laws and continued threats or harassment by sections that wield power in our society. These include big multinationals, government, political leaders and some opinion leaders. The media environment makes it hard for journalists to report the truth in many instances. They also find it difficult to carry out their watchdog role fully. These impediments have to be addressed. The need for laws to be amended to allow journalists to operate freely is a matter of urgency. Further, improved protection for media workers is pertinent including the ceasing of wanton dismissals of media workers especially in state owned media should cease. Journalists should not change as government changes in state owned media houses. Moreover, many are times when journalists are physically or verbally harassed or equipment destroyed and culprits go scout free even when there is sufficient evidence. This must stop,” stated Mwale.
“Therefore, in line with this year’s theme which borders on Building Partnership for Sustainable Development, MISA Zambia wishes to state that there is need for those wielding power to let go of the media workers and allow them to operate freely without fear of being beaten, fired because the media owner did not like the story published. Further, the online space must not become subject to oppressive laws that will inhibit the rights of workers to express themselves and their grievances. The social media is a space for freedom of expression, right to information and for association and therefore no law must be made to derogate these rights as they are indivisible, they have to be enjoyed fully. We therefore wish to celebrate every worker in Zambia for their contribution to the development Zambia is recording but more so our constituency the media who work tirelessly and at times under very difficult circumstances to deliver the news and information to the Zambian public and the world.”