Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya has told critics who say it was unproductive for President Edgar Lungu to declare Friday a holiday that the Head of State was trying to accommodate civil servants who do not go on industrial break.

Responding to questions at a media briefing, Wednesday, Siliya who is also Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, justified President Lungu’s decision to declare Friday, October 25, 2019, a public holiday.

“The whole essence of the President declaring the 25th of October as a holiday is that within government, workers have been complaining, especially workers in government who do not get an industrial break, compared to workers in the private sector. Last year if you recall, honourable Margaret Mwanakatwe who was Finance Minister then, did announce that going towards the end of each year, there must be at least two weeks break for all government workers, especially non essential workers. But this has not been actualised at the moment. So this is part of an effort by the President to recognise that government workers don’t get as much holidays, as much as those in the private sector, because they don’t go on industrial break at the end of the year. So this is just an attempt by his Excellency to say ‘let’s respond to what the people are saying, especially government workers’,” Siliya said.

“But he was very clear also when he discussed with Cabinet that this, going forward has to be structured so that everybody is clear that when do government workers get also their industrial break and should they all go on industrial break at the same time at the end of the year or some go the last two weeks of December, the others the first two weeks of December when we all know that there is not much business happening. So this is just an attempt by the President towards responding to what workers are actually requesting for.”

Siliya also reacted to claims by UPND Spokesperson Charles Kakoma that investors were shunning Zambia due to corruption.

“Government wants to clarify the statement by one of the opposition leaders that investors are shunning Zambia because of corruption. On the contrary, our records from ZDA are saying that in just the first six months of this year, we saw about US $5.3 billion worth of investment in the country and this was especially in energy, mining, construction, agriculture and tourism and manufacturing. As a result of this, the first six months of this year, about 9,000 jobs were created. So government wanted to put on record that our friends have the luxury of making statement without figures but we don’t have that luxury, we as government have to give you the figures as they are,” said Siliya.

Siliya also encouraged all well meaning Zambians to participate in the Independence Day celebrations as the country commemorates 55 years of independence.