Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

14 April 2014

Zambia: Military Personnel Upset With Wage Freeze

A Zambia Army officer from Arakan Barracks has revealed that military personnel are very unhappy with the recent wage freezes, which they say has negatively affected morale among the troops.

The officer who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons has said that both soldiers and officers in the barracks were upset that there would be no promotions and salary increments among the ranks in the foreseeable future.

The officer said soldiers paid attention to promotions, which kept them motivated and appreciated in their public service achievements.

"Promotions for soldiers are very important and we see them as a major motivational factor. Now there will be no promotions for the next two years because of the wage freeze announced by the government. This is brought about a lot of worries and disappointments among the men and women in uniform because there will be no money, incentives and other motivational factors," the officer said.

The source said there were some army officers that were about to retire within the next two years and they were expecting a promotion and leave the military service at a higher rank.

"The problem facing such officers is that they will not be promoted because of the wage freeze and because they will not be promoted, they will take home a smaller retirement package and they are not happy. We have some officers who are about to retire in the next few months and they thought a promotion will come their way to give them an opportunity to retire as at a senior rank and go home with a bigger retirement package," the source said.

The source said the military fraternity was also not happy at the way some senior army officers were retired when the Patriotic Front (PF) government assumed power in 2011.

The source said the senior army officers who included generals, colonels and majors desired to be treated with respect, honour and dignity.

The source said there was nothing to keep the soldiers motivated now because there would be no salary increments and no promotions.

"The cost of living has kept going up while we continue to earn less and less. There is no one speak for the people in the military. The soldiers and those at the lower ranks are the worst affected and it is like that. The Zambian soldier is among the most disciplined soldier not only in Africa, but the world at large because the soldiers are patient," he said.

Presenting the 2014 national budget last year, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda announced a two year wage freeze for public service workers. This means the government will not implement any salary increment for public service workers and the government will not hire workers.

In 2011, Michael Sata ordered the retirement of 29 Zambia army and security officers. These included 13 generals and 16 colonels.

Some of the security officers had sued that state for wrongful dismissal and some of the cases are still before the courts of law.

In March 2014, the High Court quashed Sata's decision to retire three senior police officers stating that the decision to retire the officers was illegal.

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