By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba
When Minister of Finance, Hon. Situmbeko Musokotwane announced that Government will employ 11,200 health workers and 30,000 teachers, there was genuine excitement from across the board.
The two sectors have trained staff roaming the streets without jobs as government is the dominant employer in the two areas. But this optimism has quickly waned with the various uncoordinated announcements and pronouncements from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
Minister of Education, Hon. Douglas Siakalima was the first one to put a damper into the process.
He said the process would have to wait until April 2022 as the government had just appointed the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) and would allow the Commissioners to settle down and devise methods of conducting the recruitment. Further, confusion has arisen over the announcements that Government will instead begin with 10,000 teachers within the service who have obtained higher qualifications but require upgrading to higher pay.
Again, earlier announcements indicated that Government may only start with the recruitment of 10,000 out of 30,000 earmarked for this year.
The teacher unions have also made their own demands. The Special Education Teachers Union of Zambia (SPETUZ) has urged the Government to consider allocating 10,000 teachers out of the 30,000 earmarked for recruitment to qualified special education teachers and teachers with disabilities.
Similarly Minister of Health, Sylvia Masebo has not helped matters. She has disclosed that the recruitment of the 11,200 health workers will prioritize recruiting volunteers working in the various health centres, clinics, and hospitals. Without providing any statistics or information to back up the decision or demonstrate how widespread the phenomenon is on the newly discovered volunteers, she says the process will begin with them first. She has even established corruption in the process as she alleges that facility administrators have opened doors to new volunteers in a corrupt and nepotistic manner, to allow the new-to-be entrants to benefit from this new policy pronouncement!
This confusion must stop.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
Dr. Musokotwane has announced that the Treasury has money to conduct the recruitment of both teachers and health workers totaling 41,000. He has announced that he has provided for these funds to both Ministries. Therefore the confusion, daily policy shifts, and uncoordinated statements from the two Ministries must immediately come to an end.
The two ministries must proceed with the recruitment of these workers as provided for in the 2022 National Budget without delay. In Bemba we say; “Umunwe balaile Umusunga, wenda uwa konkomana”. ( a finger that has been promised porridge, will ready itself, move folded like a spoon, or the Bible says; “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” Proverbs 13;12).
So Government has a duty to get on with the recruitment to allay unnecessary anxieties. These job seekers are made to trek from the UPND Secretariat, to UPND officials, and to the two Ministries to seek urgent solutions to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Some unscrupulous people have emerged and are even collecting bribes from the hapless young people.
Let the process be transparent, fair, and benefit all and let’s stop the obfuscation and pain for these new recruits.
The public Service Management Division (PSMD) may consider forming a special committee to coordinate and handle this mammoth task of recruiting 41,000 in one fiscal year. In the medium to long-term term, the training of teachers and health personnel may require a special policy restricting training as was before. The training of teachers and health personnel was the preserve and exclusive role of government institutions.
The opening of this training to the private sector has produced a huge backlog of teachers and health workers, who can not be absorbed in the rate they are being trained. With the opening of training to the private sector, we are now manufacturing unemployment! As the major employer, Government may consider putting a cap on the number of health workers and teachers that can be trained in a year.
This way, we may prevent the crisis from recurring. As for now, Government must recruit the 41,000 as announced.