Chiteme dismisses ZCTU’s rejection of health insurance law
By Staff Reporter
Only greedy people who want the poor Zambians to suffer are opposing the National Health Insurance Act, says national development planning minister Alexander Chiteme.
And Chiteme says no country can develop without borrowing.
Officiating at this year’s Labour Day celebrations in Mbala on Tuesday, Chiteme dismissed the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions’ rejection of the recently-enacted National Health Insurance law.
Chiteme, who was reacting to various concerns raised by Basic Education Teachers’ Union deputy secretary general, Henry Sinkala, who was representing the labour movement at the event, said it was only greedy people that want their insurance entities to thrive entities to thrive, as the poor suffer from inaccess to proper health services, who are opposed to the National Health Insurance Scheme.
And Chiteme 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,” he 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 the 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 reshuffles, it’s just like a transfer. If ministers can be transferred, why can’t a government worker be transferred?” Chiteme asked . “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, Chiteme reassured that the country’s debt was sustainably being serviced.
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,” 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.”
On the unions’ 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,” said Chiteme. “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’.”