JCTR presses govt to give assurances on public service workers salaries

By Staff Reporter

The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) is concerned with the continued silence on the non-payment of February salaries to some public service workers.

In a statement today, Social and Economic Development Officer Paul Chileshe expressed concern, especially that it was not the first time salaries were being delayed for parastatal and government institutions employees.

Chileshe said it was very embarrassing as did not only affect the dignity of workers but also infringing on their rights and promoting a poor work culture among civil servants.

“According to Section 48 (2) of the Employment Act, wages of an employee should be paid at regular intervals not being later than the fifth day following the date upon which the wages fall due. Workers’ rights explicitly point out that everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity. Delay of salaries by over 5 days is a breach of the law by the government and should be highly condemned by all well-meaning citizens,” he stated.

JCTR noted that among the causes of the delay in salaries is the huge debt burden which the country is currently owing and servicing.

“According to the economic and treasury brief for March 2019, as at end of December 2018, external debt stood at USD 10.05 billion and domestic debt stood at K58.3 billion,” he said.

“Beyond debt, the unsympathetic abuse of public funds by those in power has been devastating and has contributed to reduced government coffers resulting in delayed salaries. For instance, the 2017 auditor general’s report showed that wasteful expenditure increased from K 3,586,879 in 2016 to K 7,865,395 in 2017, misappropriation of funds increased from K 3,618,127 in 2016 to K 5,036,051 in 2017 and irregular payments increased from K 1,591,348 in 2016 to K 21,791,360 in 2017”.

Chileshe indicated that the country had already started experiencing the effects of delayed salaries, with lecturers at the University of Zambia having stopped lecturing until they were paid.

“The absence of lecturers affects our education system and compromises the quality of graduates from universities who should contribute to the development of our country,” he said.

Chileshe further noted that the cost of living for a family of five has remained high at K 5,331, which is a challenge for most households who can’t afford the basic needs of life.

He urged government to respect the law by honouring its obligation regarding employees’ remunerations as stipulated in the Employment Act.

The centre has further urged the government to use public funds prudently and ensure that they put up stringent measures to prevent the high misuse of public funds.