ZAMBIA, like many other developing countries across the globe, is faced with a mammoth task of transitioning to a developed country.
Countries like China, Singapore, Japan and the US, among others, will attest that attaining the status of a developed country is no mean feat.
It requires a lot of sacrifice and commitment from all citizens.
It is the collective efforts of individuals that add up to push the national development agenda forward.
This is why every Zambian must be aware that whatever they do in their space of work has a bearing on the country’s development agenda.
This is why we are saddened by reports that some government workers in Southern Province are abusing work hours to watch entertainment programmes on television sets in their offices.
Southern Province Minister Edify Hamukale revealed the abuse recently after receiving complaints from Government departments and shop owners.
“I have received complaints from Government departments and private shop owners with television sets that some workers are abusing these by watching Telemundo and Zee World instead of working. I am told women are the worst culprits. Let us use these television sets for their intended purpose of accessing current affairs and information, not otherwise,” Dr Hamukale said.
We are also convinced that these counter-productive tendencies are prevalent not only in Southern Province but in all other parts of the country as well.
It is saddening that while Government meant well by acquiring television sets for Government offices to help employees stay up-to-date with current affairs and events, many are abusing them.
We agree with Dr Hamukale that Government workers, who are expected to work a minimum of eight hours a day, have no business watching soap operas during business hours.
This behaviour is counter-productive and should be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
For a country like ours, which has a long way to go in its development journey, it is detrimental for Government workers to use work hours to watch entertainment programmes at the expense of quality service delivery.
We know that these soap operas are addictive and most of those who watch them tend to lose control of their time and, as a result, work suffers.
And it is not only soap operas that distract workers. Sports events, especially soccer, often bring productivity to zero. In as much as Zambia is a soccer-crazy nation, this should not be at the expense of losing work hours.
Some argue that watching soccer, especially if Zambia wins, motivates workers. This could be true but who accounts for the 90-plus minutes spent away from the production line?
If the country is to develop, all workers need to maximise on productivity and, where possible, go an extra mile.
Workers should understand that it is not only counter-productive to watch soap operas during work hours but it is daylight robbery because they are paid on the basis of working eight full hours per day.
If on a daily basis an hour is devoted to watching the soap operas, by the end of every week, these workers would have robbed Government of five work hours and 20 hours every month.
We also know that watching soap operas is not the only factor that eats into productivity. Some Government workers, in particular, are in the habit of reporting late and knocking off early from work, among other unproductive tendencies.
All this time put together renders some of these Government workers unproductive and a liability to quality service delivery.
While we expect that one’s conscience is enough to convict them of this immoral act, it is also clear that there are many whose consciences are seared and do not see anything wrong with stealing Government time.
Such need to be helped by way of applying punitive measures.
Those in supervisory positions should ensure that anyone found abusing work hours is dealt with accordingly to deter would-be offenders.
Not too long ago, Government was forced to block Facebook during work hours in government offices due to abuse. Perhaps it should also consider withdrawing television sets from those abusing them.
This is the only way to restore sanity and productivity.
Above all, there is need for mindset change among all public workers if this country is to develop.