Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga has warned resident doctors participating in the current go-slow that their demands will not be met if they continue to put the government under duress.
Mr. Malupenga said procedure has to be followed for all civil servants to air their grievances rather than inciting the public to rise against the government.
He was speaking on a special interview which also featured Permanent Secretaries from Ministry of Health and Public Service Management Division on HOT FM radio this morning.
Mr. Malupenga said although the resident doctors have a right to speak about their plight, health workers are classified as essential workers who are supposed to provide uninterrupted service even in the middle of a catastrophe as they took oath.
“They will face the consequences if they continue to abrogate the rules of engagement. Putting government under duress is a wrong route and we will not give them any desired result,” he said.
He stated that there are procedures which should be followed in government noting that the demands cannot all be met at the same time.
Mr. Malupenga noted that doctors are not the only essential workers who are being owed leave travel benefits, gratuity and settling-in allowances.
He said the union leaders have shunned the negotiating table which is supposed to address their grievances.
“They have said that they will not resume normal operations until they receive money in their pockets but that is not how government operates. There are procedures to be followed in making payments and the K200 million which was released was not only for the doctors but all civil servants,” he said.
And Public Service Management Division Permanent Secretary Boniface Chimbwali said all civil servants will be treated equally in the payment of the outstanding personal related emoluments.
Mr. Chimbwali noted that payments will be made in chronological order saying those who first qualified to get their dues will be the ones to be paid first.
He stated that K15 million was released to the Ministry of Health and that it is for all workers under the ministry and not only the doctors.
“You need to understand that over K800 million is owed to employees under the Ministry of Health, and the dismantling of these funds will be done in a systematic manner,” he said.
Mr. Chimbwali noted that the K200 million that was released to dismantle the arrears is not a result of the pressure by the resident doctors but that it is an issue that has been under discussion for a long time.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Kennedy Malama said the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia has gone out of its terms of reference by demanding that government employs 500 doctors.
“The union is supposed to be interested with issues regarding people who are in employment and not those who have not been employed,” he said.
Dr. Malama said when one chooses to leave their lane, they risk being misunderstood to be politically charged.
He maintained that the government has shown willingness to address some of the outstanding issues and that there is a need for the doctors to remain patient.
“Government has been dismantling the arrears and at the same time, it has been employing health workers,” he said.