Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

27 May 2014

Zambia: Civil Servants Lose Hope for Higher Salaries

Some civil servants have said it is worthless and futile for trade unions to continue negotiating for better salaries and good working conditions from President Michael Sata's regime because the government was broke.

The civil servants interviewed at Cabinet office said trade unions were aware that the Patriotic Front (PF) government had depleted the resources in the national treasury.

Given Kabanda who works in one of the registries said there was no money in the treasury for trade unions to continue asking for increased salaries.

Kabanda said even if civil servants were awarded hefty salary increments, Sata's government would not be able to pay the personal emoluments because there was no money in the public coffers.

He said the PF government was claiming to be building public infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, clinics and schools and that was where all the resources were being spent. Kabanda said it was not true that there was unprecedented development of public infrastructure in Zambia because the PF regime was not the only government that was building these public facilities since independence.

"We are like those fools who are trying to squeeze water out of a stone. It can only take a miracle. It is the same way that it will take a miracle for civil servants in Zambia to get a salary increment. These people in the PF government have taken this country to its knees," he said.

Another civil servant Gladys Phiri said civil servants must forget about salary increments because Sata's government has shown open unwillingness to look into the plight of public workers.

She said Zambia had been destroyed under Sata, who millions thought was the silver bullet and special solution to the country's stagnation.

"We have seen that the President has shown enough inactivity already and there is no hope of rising and showing anything further than what we have seen. The PF government has shwn us what it has got. They have shown us their strength and what they are capable of doing. We do not expect anything better than what we have seen so far, except that it has been a very painful and regrettable experience from any right thinking citizen so far," she said.

Phiri, an office manager at Cabinet office said even senior civil servants such as directors and their assistants were dissatisfied with the performance of the PF government, but they were reluctant to openly express their views for fear of victimisation.

"It is only in 2016 that we as civil servants will bring a more sensible and wise leader. So far, we have made our own judgements and this is the talk of all corridors and offices at cabinet office that this government has failed and it is taking Zambia to its demise. The price of fuel has gone up and this has made every other commodity to rise in prices and yet we have a president who is sleeping. We have a swam of ministers who have also gone to sleep like their leader. This is a sleeping government that only wakes up when it is time to eat," she said.

Phiri said many civil servants did not expect an implementation of increased salaries and good conditions under the PF government.

She said it would even be futile and pointless to resort to demonstrations because even the protests would not give money to the PF leaders to pay salaries because the country was broke.

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