Suspension of 74 Kabwe workers stinks dictatorship – HH

By Sipilisiwe Ncube

UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the Kabwe Municipal Council’s decision to suspend 74 striking workers for demanding their six months’ salary arrears stinks of PF’s dictatorship.

In a statement, Hichilema argued that the Municipality was the one at fault for not paying its workers their dues.

“The decision by the PF regime to suspend 74 striking Kabwe Municipal Council workers who were demanding for their six months’ salary arrears is uncalled for and stinks of dictatorship. It has now become a habit to delay salaries for civil servants, public service employees and worse off, the Council employees around the country. The Kabwe Municipal Council must lift the suspension of 74 workers and others that have been suspended for asking, for requesting what is theirs. The workers have not been paid their salaries for a long time [and] when salaries are not paid on time, workers’ families suffer,” Hichilema stated.

“These workers have children who go to school; these workers have dependents who look forward to the salaries of these workers. The one who has committed a crime is not the workers, but it is the Kabwe Municipal Council who are failing to pay salaries of workers on time! The people who need to be arrested are the PF thugs who attacked the Municipal Council of Kabwe workers who exercised their constitutional right to demonstrate their constitutional rights, to basically ask for what is theirs.”

He stated that had government not wasted US $400 million to purchase President Edgar Lungu’s jet, that money would have been used to pay salary arrears.

“The Kabwe Municipal Council needs to know that it’s a human right for a family, a worker to be paid what is due to them, having offered their service [or] labour in this case. So, really, the Council must start finding money; the Council must get money from central government. The PF must stop the corruption, the rot and spending money ravishingly on wrong things, including buying presidential jets with enhancement to the value of US $400 million. US $400 million if it was not wasted on a plane, a piece of metal, would have assisted to pay Kabwe Municipal Council workers through the support from the central government. That is a responsibility of government. We have a government that is insensitive, a government that does not care for the people of Zambia. [We urge the] Kabwe Municipal Council to lift the suspension of those workers who acted within their rights to demonstrate [for] what is theirs. If you don’t want workers to demonstrate, pay them their salaries, pay them their benefits on time!” he demanded.

He observed that government was worsening the cost of living for the majority poor Zambians by continuously delaying salaries.

“All this is due to lacking priorities in expenditure as the money is being channelled into funding corruption and lavish lifestyles, such as procuring customized private jets when people are suffering! The cost of essential commodities, such as mealie meal, and now with the proposed increase in the cost of electricity is already unbearable for majority of our citizens, but it’s being worsened by delayed salaries. The negative effects of such economic problems being inflicted on our people is raising crime levels and encouraging corruption in the country, such as illegal sale of land by our civic authorities. This is the same corruption that is humiliating our citizens during PF-induced by-elections where people are being made to line up for hand-outs in exchange for votes. Pay our workers on time and avoid industrial unrest!” urged Hichilema.