Workers Compensation Corner with Maybin Nkholomba
DEPUTY Minister of Labour and Social Security Alfreda Kansembe recently took time off her busy schedule to visit the Workersâ€™ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) to, among other things, appreciate operations especially as far as the role of WCFCB is concerned in the economic life of our great country, Zambia.
It is normal for us or any other public institution to receive special government guests, but this particular visit was extraordinary as the deputy minister sat in our boardroom to run through our core and non-core functions in order to appreciate gaps that should be addressed.
This comes as no surprise to those of us who attended the recent launch of the Mount Branch Office in Lusaka where she pledged to support WCFCB in the implementation of policies seeking to provide relief to workers and their families in the event of occupational accidents and diseases.
The deputy minister stated and I quote: â€œLet me take this opportunity to assure that our ministry stands ready to provide necessary support to management in the formulation of policies and overseeing the effective implementation of social security programmes to ensure that the aspirations of the government and the people of Zambia are met.â€
She further stated that the launch of the Mount Branch Office confirmed the position of the government on policy matters relating to decentralisation and transformation of the institution to meet stakeholder aspirations in so far as achievement and sustenance of the mandate to protect workers was concerned.
The visit by the deputy minister therefore confirms government support, especially that concerns have also been raised regarding the increasing incidences of accidents and diseases in industry and the need to give high consideration and priority to the decentralisation policy which is resulting in the establishment of branch offices at provincial and district levels to bring public services closer to the people.
What gives us the confidence that improvements to WCFCB remain highly attainable is the level of government support coming directly from the supervising ministry.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is fully aware of the humongous expectations of the citizens of our country on the social security system for the protection of workers against employment injuries and diseases, and as such, we have been assured of support in overseeing the implementation of the necessary policies to improve coverage and service delivery.
As the deputy minister observed, decentralisation entails devolution of authority to the branch level to execute functions on behalf of the board. Therefore, it is clearly understood that the critical role that branch offices in the country will play in advancing the mission of the board remains at the core of the improvement plan.
Readers may appreciate that being injured on duty brings more than just physical pain, along with actual injuries, and that there are concerns for the workers on how to receive or pay for treatment and what kind of compensation is available. These are the most pressing of all concerns that we share with the government and we are determined to ensure that workers in this country receive compensation as provided under the laws of the country.
However, what is worrying is the level of ignorance even on the basic functions of the WCFCB among those that it seeks to serve, the workers and employers. The services and products remain unclear to most workers and employers, hence our deliberate effort to showcase some of the services especially on public television and sometimes in tailor-made workshops and exhibitions. We are aware that this effort will not pay unless the people for whom the WCFCB was established to serve take interest.
This is the reason why Ms Kansembe counselled management to invest more in marketing the institution upon learning that some sections of our society were still in the dark, or should we be saying unaware of the role and mandate of WCFCB, despite its equal age to the country in terms of existence.
Ms Kansembe emphasised the need to reach out to many people to ensure that the mandate is appreciated, supported and even publicly approved.
We will not be doing any justice if we remain quiet on her visit to one of our pensioners in Luanshya whom we recently gave commutation of pension to purchase a low cost house. The pensioner has been assisted in line with our mission and it is such benefits that people need to know about for them to appreciate what we do.
The deputy ministerâ€™s visit also extended to Konkola Copper Mines and Mopani Copper Mines, including some of our investment property in Ndola and Kitwe.
With such level of support, we can only remain assured that government support will result in greater delivery of public services to the people for whom these organisations were established.
God bless you!
The author is Corporate Aff a i r s and Custome r Services Manager at Workersâ€™ Compensation Fund Control Board
Kansembeâ€™s visit to WCFCB confirms govt support
Workers Compensation Corner with Maybin Nkholomba