President Edgar Lungu on Monday announced government reshuffles at permanent secretary level, a move that saw at least four top officials lose their positions, several others transferred and a few promoted.
The highest paid civil servant Dr Roland Msiska has finally been asked to leave Cabinet Office this February, and banished to some little-known organization called Zambia Atomic Agency. Other permanent secretaries like Michael Pwete for Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, Geoffrey Malama from Ministry of Information and Ephraim Mateyo from North Western Province, have quite simply been fired – or if one chooses to be diplomatic – their contract have not been renewed.
According to State House, this ‘ongoing; reshuffle is meant to improve service delivery within the government. Some people have already started commending the President on his move and they believe that the replacements will bring renewed energy to the system. In a normal government, that would be the case. But in this particular Patriotic Front Government, things don’t work like that.
Tough luck to those who have been kicked out; like they say, the President has the power to appoint and disappoint at any stage, and without giving a reason. But our commiserations go to those who will be getting new jobs and those who have been promoted. We are expressing sympathy to the new appointees because we know what “service delivery” means under this regime.
You see dear readers; many civil servants in this government have gotten in trouble with the appointing authority because they got things twisted between getting the job and doing their job. We have observed that, under President Lungu, getting the job and doing your job mean totally different things, and those who have grasp this silent rule have enjoyed their jobs. These ‘clever’ civil servants who are enjoying their jobs have discovered that getting the job done means your job will be lost very soon – so they have wisely chosen not to do their jobs.
We have no special interest in those top government officials whose contracts have not been renewed, and we are not in any position to suggest that they have been unfairly removed. To be honest, it was good riddance for some. But our focus is on those top government officials who are getting paid for not doing their jobs. For the purpose of clarity, we are going to cite a few examples.
Director of Public Prosecutions: Anyone who followed events leading to the scandalous appointment of Madam Lillian Shawa Siyunyi as chief of the National Prosecutions Authority knows that she was employed so that she does not do her job. If we are wrong, how can Ms Siyunyi explain her failure to prosecute the senior government officials who are named in the financial trends report, in the auditor general’s report and those who are reported by the Anti Corruption Commission? The director of Public Prosecutions knows the criminals in this country, the files are accumulating on her desk, but she has chosen not to do her job so that she can stay in the job.
Inspector General of Police: Everyone heard the recorded conversation between the President’s spokesperson and Mr Kakoma Kanganja where the Inspector General was being ordered to do the opposite of his job. So the conduct of police officers should not shock anyone. How can the chief of police explain the fact that there is no single PF official in prison today despite the publicly available evidence showing their illegal grabbing of land, takeover of markets, bus stations and defying the public order Act? Is it possible that the only lawbreakers in this country are those who don’t support PF? No doubt, Mr Kanganja was employed not to do his job.
Attorney General: Mr Likando Kalaluka’s job is to carefully scrutinise and evaluate government contracts to ensure that the State does not lose resources through dubious transactions that may have slipped through the tender procedures. Zambia right now is losing millions and billions of dollars through unscrupulously overpriced government tenders. Can State Counsel Kalaluka point at one contract which his legal opinion objected to; and if he does not agree with any of these alarming procurements, can he then explain what he is still doing in the midst of people who are rubbishing his guidance?
Examples are many, but the few highlighted above illustrate how unfairly Zambians are being governed. On the other hand, there are those who are in constant trouble for trying to do their jobs. When the Chief Justice of Zambia tried to intervene in a judicial misconduct matter involving judge Sunday Nkonde, we saw PF surrogates warning her not to do her job, or face a forced removal from office.
Another easy example we can give is that of the Director General at the Financial Intelligence Centre. We saw how Ms Mary Chirwa suffered in 2018 after her office released the 2017 financial trends report. Culprits jumped to their defence and unleashed all sorts of threats on her. In our view, the Director General of the Financial Intelligence Center faced persecution because she has been doing her job. What we don’t know is, for how long she will be allowed to do her job before her job is ‘done’.
It is clear that when you are offered a job in this government, President Lungu is practically saying, ‘get the job, but don’t do it!’
But we need to remind those top public servants who are enjoying their jobs in this unpatriotic fashion, that by default, they are also criminals and accomplices to crimes. Getting a salary for not doing your job is daylight robbery, and closing your eyes when crimes are being committed under your nose makes you an accomplice.
Anyway, days are numbered. A time will come when those who are getting paid for not doing their jobs will have to face those who will be employed to do their jobs; and we will be here to report the unfolding events.