The Zambia Congress of Trade Union has lamented that the recently hiked fuel prices will escalate the cost of living.

And ZCTU has observed that President Edgar Lungu is an irresponsible of Head of State whose government shields criminality.

Analysing the 2019 budget at a media briefing yesterday, ZCTU secretary general Cosmas Mukuka urged government not to surrender oil procurement to private companies.

“As regards oil procurement, ZCTU is concerned that government is increasingly leaving the oil procurement process in the hands of the private sector. Being profit driven, the private sector will continue to exploit Zambians by raising pump prices. In 2019, government intends to enact into law, a Bill which will, among other things, facilitate enhanced participation of the private sector in the procurement and financing of petroleum products. However, ZCTU is recommending and has always recommended that government must procure oil and other petroleum products through bilateral arrangements to avoid private sector greed and involvement of middlemen who tend to escalate the cost of fuel,” Mukuka said.

“To this end, ZCTU condemns the current increment in fuel pump prices which will have a multiplier effect on the cost of other commodity price. The increase in pump price of 17% for petrol and 22% for diesel will not only translate into an increase in transport costs but will also increase the cost of production which will in turn tend to increase the general price level of all commodities and escalate the already high cost of living.”

And Mukuka charged that President Lungu was an irresponsible Head of State.

“It’s a question of having a clear study because if we just rely on the Auditor General’s report to review where we can arrest people without putting certain measures in the first place, we will fail. There two things here, the people handling resources, are they motivated? That’s one area. If they are not motivated, illicit activities will go [on]. Two, what are the rules governing the financial management in that sector? You find that even the supervisor may not be dedicated because maybe certain things are missing. So, even when government acts on its employees for us we are saying it has acted irresponsibly because there is no way you can shield illicit programs,” he said.

“This government has shielded illicit programs that’s why misappropriation of funds is the order of the day. So, why then would you dismiss an employee if your government shields illicit activities? There is no way you can shield criminality, that’s acting irresponsibly. It’s irresponsible as government especially from the head of state. He is irresponsible and now he has no choice but with a heavy heart disappoint the people he appointed.”

Meanwhile, Mukuka said mine owners had become extremely stupid because of government’s poor labour laws.

“Now with the mine owners, they are saying we are going to do job cuts, that’s stubbornness and arrogance of the highest level where you are in a country owned by Zambians, you are an investor there and you have employed people and the only thing you have to do is I will cut jobs. I think these are some of the things which we need to invest in as Zambians. That’s why for us in this budget speech, we were even saying when you say job creation, can you point the sectors, and can you point the physical jobs created, so that we are able to guard against such stupidity. Because you cannot always rush, certain things happen, and you rush to say I will cut on jobs, I will cut on this. I this is making us to be vulnerable and enslaved in our country where we bring in investors and can threaten us in that order. I think enough is enough we need to stand up and start clear that. If we followed the laws to the latter, that’s why we are saying let’s fund the ministry of labour, so that it does the correct job,” said Mukuka.

“Termination of employment where people have invested in labour laws, cannot just be you wake you come out as a boss from a toilet and you chase people from your work. It shouldn’t be like that. Let’s invest in our labour laws. In people’s countries and you have the audacity to say that I will cut on jobs?”