Chienge FDD member of parliament Given Katuta has vowed to grill the PF government over stolen drugs at Medical Stores Limited when Parliament resumes sitting in June.
And Katuta says it is illogical and retrogressive to ban public service officers from having stints with private clinics.
In an interview, Katuta said she could wait to get answers on stolen drugs on the floor of the House.
“We know who the thieves are, let me go to Parliament and talk about this. They should talk about the drugs that are going to the DRC. Who’s been exporting those drugs to DRC? They should first tell the nation. The PF always want to blame innocent civil servants, everyday ‘the civil servants are thieves’, everyday ‘the civil servants are working with the opposition’. Are you sure that is what is on the ground? What pilferage are they talking about? They must tell us. If they know they are stealing they are stealing from the medical stores then fire them. Because that does not call for banning other people who are trying to make ends meet by doing a private job. You cannot generalise, it’s like when they are being called that PF is corrupt, they have refuted that it’s not all of them who are corrupt. It’s the same thing, it’s not every public health worker who is stealing the medicine from there,” Katuta said.
Katuta also condemned PF’s inconsistent policies on public health workers’ engagement with private clinics.
“Are they saying that a nurse or a public health scientist are the ones that are stealing the medicine from the stores? If you look at this, it’s absurd, it doesn’t make sense. Please someone tell the PF government that you don’t do things using intuition or using a rule of thumb, they have to sit down and think, not just waking up and deciding things. They are doing things like they own the country. They don’t consult anyone. Today you can do the part time job, tomorrow, no you can’t do the part time job because you are the ones who are stealing. Do you have proof that they are ones who are stealing? Why not talk about the drugs which are been exported to DRC? Someone is behind that and they must account for that. They should not always just say no they are stealing, look for them and bring them to book, let them account for missing drugs. You cannot just be generalizing,” she said.
“The PF government has always been like that, today they say one thing, tomorrow they will say another thing. I don’t see any logic in banning health workers from engaging with the private sector. In the first place, they pay them little money and sometimes they don’t get their salaries on time. Then other thing is that the health workers are not given proper work conditions. If the government says they should not be working part time…and this is part time, we are not saying they should go their during their working hours. In this country we have architects, we have accountants who work in government but during their free time they do other consultancy works. So why should it be only on health workers who the government has even failed to take care of? I really find that decision by the Ministry of Health to be illogical and retrogressive, because looking at the leaving standards of today, these are harsh days. These are civil servants who get peanuts and someone is trying to make ends meet then you want to stop them. As we are talking, their are over 70 health workers who the government has put on suspension or retired in national interest but they are still getting paid from the government. You can only keep something to yourself if you are taking proper care of it. But how do you keep something if you cannot take proper care? They want to have these health practitioners to themselves, but how do they take care of them? It is shameful. I just don’t know what is going on with the PF government, today they say one thing, tomorrow they say the other thing.”
Katuta accused government of copying policies from other countries which were not working for the Zambian people.
“And this thing of them copying things from East Africa, Kenya in particular. You cannot just be doing things because other countries are doing them. You just see Kenya bringing 100 Doctors from Cuba and they ban all the public health workers from doing part time jobs and you also pick it up like that. It’s the same issue with the land policy, they have copied the land policy from East Africa. So what kind of a government is this which cannot just come up with its own initiatives, just to think on their on? Before the government does anything, they must consult the stakeholders, let them hear from them and work it our on how they are going to deal with things. If they are not careful, this could call for massive exodus of their public health sector. There is a shortage of public health workers in neigbouring countries where workers are well paid. In the UK , Europe and even the USA. This is what we used to experience even in the MMD, we had massive exodus of our health workers going to look for greener pastures,” said Katuta.
“Now if they say they cannot allow their health workers to do part time jobs then let them also stop any civil servant including the Permanent Secretaries and the Ministers, they should not own businesses because that’s a part time job they are doing outside what they are employed for. If you look at most these ministers and PSs they have other businesses they are running. But they don’t run those businesses during working hours, they go to run businesses when they have knocked off in their spare time.”