Minister of National Development Planning Honourable Alexander Chiteme has assured that there is no victimization of Government workers and that the current debt acquired is benefiting the people through infrastructure development and provision of social amenities.
And the Minister said all stakeholders to the political dialogue should confirm their recognition of His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu as the President of Zambia, in order to have a healthy dialogue.
Mr. Chiteme was speaking when he officiated at the 2018 Labour Day Celebrations in Mbala on Tuesday and responded to several concerns raised by Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ) Deputy Secretary General Henry Sinkala, who spoke on behalf of the labour movement.
The Minister told government workers to be non-partisan.
“When one joins Government, you sign to the terms and conditions of your employment with the Government. One of those conditions is that the Government can at will transfer you to any other position and place in Zambia,” Mr. Chiteme said. “Government workers should not engage in active politics and should remain non-partisan. When you become partisan you expose yourself and liable to a lot of things including being fired from the civil service.”
He said transfers in Government were not new, and that they were provided for in the laws.
He said anyone, including Ministers, could be transferred from one government position or station to another.
“Recently we had Cabinet reschedules, it’s just like a transfer. If ministers can be transferred, why can’t a government worker be transferred?” the minister said. “I want to make that clear because now it is coming out as if Government is beginning to victimise people by transferring them.”
On Zambia’s debt levels and management, the Minister reassured that the country’s debt was being serviced and sustainable.
He said the Government had borrowed to foster development and improve the wellbeing of the citizens.
“We have seen the developments that have come with that borrowing. There is no country in this world that has developed without borrowing,” Mr. Chiteme told the gathering. “We have borrowed and used the money to build roads, good hospitals, clinics etc. Up-to this day Zambia has never defaulted on any of its debt obligation, meaning that our debt is sustainable, and we are going to work very hard to make sure that our people have social amenities to live a decent life.”
The Minister assured that Government was committed to providing an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and create jobs.
He said the Government was empowering youths with knowledge and skills to be self-employed and employers.
On the trade union’s rejection of the National Health Insurance Bill Act No. 2 of 2018 which President Lungu signed into law on 25 April 2018, Mr. Chiteme said the Government is committed to provide universal health coverage to all.
He dismissed the union’s assertion that only the formal sector would be making monetary contribution to the scheme.
Mr. Chiteme said only greedy people were opposed to the National Health Insurance bill because they wanted their insurance entities to thrive while poor people have no access to good health services.
On the union’s concern about lack of political dialogue among political parties, the Minister assured that President Lungu and his team were open to dialogue.
“My President His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu has extended an olive branch to everyone that was so cynical enough to come to the dialogue table and discuss issues of national importance. But people have refused to recognise him as President of the Republic; people have gone into Parliament to try and impeach my President, they have gone to the international community to disgrace and discredit the Government of the Republic of Zambia which is led by the Patriotic Front,” Mr. Chiteme said.
“When you are talking about issues of dialogue don’t only speak to the Government, speak also to other players that are party to that political dialogue. Bwana trade unionist, go and tell the other players that ‘the President of the Republic of Zambia is Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the dialogue that we need will have to begin with your confirmation that he is the duly elected and sworn in Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and President of this Republic’.”