Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) leader Charles Milupi says President Edgar Lungu does not understand the cost of public holidays, hence he thinks he can order everybody to stay at home whenever it pleases him.

And Milupi says the only people he knows for sure were happy about the declaration of Friday, October 25, as a public holiday are the drunkards who could have required an extra day in bed to nurse their hangovers.

In an interview, Milupi said he did not understand the logic behind the President’s declaration of the day after Independence Day as a public holiday, charging that the declaration further hampered economic productivity.

“I don’t know what they mean by giving government workers industrial break…I have worked in the parastatal, the private sector and I know that civil servants have more than enough days to apply to go on leave. But for whatever reason, civil servants don’t go on leave, but they have leave days. So, this declaration of an extra day as holiday after Independence Day is just a demonstration of lack of seriousness in the President himself. Zambia, already, has too many holidays, this is in addition, every person who is employed is entitled to leave days. Most employees have 30 days every annum and in addition to that, you have these statutory holidays. Now, we have Independence Day celebrations from 1964, and if you look at the calendar, there have been many times when Independence Day has fallen on Thursday, but the previous presidents never put Friday as an extra holiday,” Milupi recalled.

He added that President Lungu needed to understand that the cost implication to every declared holiday.

“Maybe, he doesn’t know that it costs money, let him get his civil servants who advise to work out the cost of a holiday. Who is going to pick up that cost? Secondly, quite clearly, this government has not taken into account productivity in this nation. They don’t even know how productive we are for them to get to declare an extra holiday because our productivity is very low, that’s why our GDP is so low. If you look at what’s happening in Zambia, today, even if things were normal, productivity is already low on account of many issues and foremost among them at the moment is that of load shedding. Productive and manufacturing companies can’t operate when they don’t have power. So, already, there are many companies that I am aware of that have gone on three-day working week because they cannot work a full working week under the circumstances of lack of electricity. So, for him (President Lungu) under these circumstances where productivity is very low, people are struggling to work because there is no electricity, to come and declare an extra day holiday shows that he does not understand how industry works,” Milupi said.

“In any case, if Ms (Dora) Siliya is saying that this holiday was targeted towards civil servants, why didn’t they say ‘civil servants should not come to work’ so that the rest of the workers like banks and those in private companies could continue to work if she thinks that civil servants need an industrial break?”

And Milupi said only drunkards, who needed an extra day in bed to nurse a hangover, were happy with President Lungu’s declaration of October 25 being a public holiday.

“Everyone who opens their mouth are just condemning and saying ‘this is a parte (after) parte (after) parte’ environment that Mr Lungu has created. He does not know how industry runs, he doesn’t know how the country runs. For him, he thinks now that he has so much power, he can just order everyone to stay at home! But no one is appreciative of this extra day, only those who have serious hangovers, those who could afford to drink at Independence Day and they need to stay in bed extra, they are the ones who appreciate this holiday. Otherwise, the country really needs more productivity than what we are getting and we need leadership that will understand these things. Leadership that will understand the cost of people not going for work because of these holidays, all the costs have now shifted to the companies that employ many people because people have to be paid. Those who did work on Friday in private companies have to be paid double, which is what we get on holiday. They are having to pick up that cost, but that cost is passed onto consumers, so, ultimately, it’s the people that pay for the carelessness of this government,” said Milupi.