Information Minister Dora Siliya says there are only a few instances where government has delayed to pay the salaries for diplomats but that a liquidation plan has already been put in place.
And Siliya says Zambians should be comforted if police shoot at someone in trying to restore order.
Meanwhile, Siliya says Zambia should start debating the need to shut down the internet whenever there is a security threat.
On Tuesday, News Diggers reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had asked diplomats and workers at Zambian missions abroad to forget about their September to December 2019 foreign service allowances until government finds some resources to clear the arrears.
Last month, foreign missions received their September 2019 salaries but in a memo addressed to all heads and acting heads of mission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary for administration Dr Ronald Simwinga advised them to consider that money as funding for January allowances.
But speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka, Wednesday, Siliya said the salaries were up to date.
“I think the issue relating to arrears of our diplomats is totally fake. I think that government has been on time in terms of paying our diplomats. In the few instances where we have arrears, I think that government has a liquidation plan of those arrears. As you know, we just begun implementing the 2020 national budget and these diplomats are out there to do work on behalf of the country and as such, I think that it is important to make it clear that government is continuing to take effect the arrears that are owed to our diplomats,” Siliya said.
And Siliya said Zambians should be comforted if police shoot at someone in trying to restore order.
When journalists asked for government’s position on sentiments that government was stained by the blood of those killed by the police during the gassing confusion, Siliya said people should be comforted when police shoot at one person because the mobs had killed more people.
“We should be comforted if the police shoot at somebody in trying to restore order. We should be comforted. What should discomfort us is if criminal activities to continue. That should give us discomfort. Number two, I think that we Zambians now, it can become the order of the day to exhibit mob justice and kill people. 46 people have died so far [and] that should make all of us uncomfortable. When we hear that the police have actually shot at suspects, that should give us comfort. It should not be an issue for anybody to start wanting to create politics and accuse government of the so-called ‘blood on their hands.’ To me, that is extremely narrow thinking. We have a serious issue in our country. None of us here is feeling safe at night. So when we hear that the police have shot at somebody, we should actually be comforted,” Siliya said.
Meanwhile, Siliya said Zambia needed to debate internet shut downs.
“We know of extreme countries where when there is a security threat, even technology for WhatsApp or internet is actually shut down. We should begin to have these conversations in this country that what do we want to do if one person can create such anarchy and fear in a country? I think it’s a healthy debate for me because for example, if you have 46 people who were killed in mob justice and the police shot two people, are we saying that these people have blood of those 46 people? And what in this case should we be doing if people are sending stories online and saying the government has blood on their hands because they shot two people? There is a lot of work to do,” said Siliya.