Columnists Features

The last buffalo to the pond drinks muddy water?

YES the last buffalo to the pond drinks muddy water as the first keep up with time to drink clean water. This is a Chinese proverb to advise against late actions, and it is true even for business houses.
That is why for some time now we have been talking about the change process being implemented at the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) to among other things restore public confidence, improve service quality and benefits obtaining in the national scheme for protection of workers against employment injuries and diseases in our country.
On this score alone, we have gone to some considerable length, at least since this column started, to inform our readers about some of the policies and systems that have shaped the transformational and transactional change process of this institution to keep abreast of the changing business environment. Simply put ‘we do not want to be the last buffalo to the pond.’
We are saying all this to give confidence to the readers about critical measures that are being taken ahead of time to address long standing and perennial issues of adequacy of benefits, service quality and general operational efficiencies in the WCFCB system. These are issues which have been responsible in many ways for the current status of WCFCB in the ‘court of public opinion.’
To infer that the judgement passed on WCFCB by the public, is indeed based on their previous good or bad experience and it defines the image and ultimately our reputation, may not be any further from truth telling.
Therefore, those of us charged with the responsibility to construct the correct image to inform the ‘court of public opinion’ about WCFCB policies and systems can do no better than reference, on a platform like this, some of the necessary corrective changes being implemented, and with a sense of urgency.
For instance, readers may wish to learn that the board of directors and management convened at Chisamba over the weekend to discuss the 2015 – 2020 Strategic Plan.
This is the document in which the cultural icons of WCFCB in the positions and names of the chairman Alec Chirwa and the commissioner Dr Elizabeth Nkumbula have both made a commitment to drive the organisation over the next five years towards service excellence.
This of course is the direction we should have been going right from the genesis of the organisation but for some reason service quality did not inform our operational agenda, if it did, to some negligible degree.
As this article has referenced the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan as being one of the management’s long term planning tools to achieve aspirations of stakeholders, I will go to lift excerpts from the summary and executive outlook to give you an idea of where we are taking this institution. And hopefully in the coming weeks, I will also give some detail on the general strategic direction;
‘The Strategic Plan for Financial years 2015/2016 through to 2019/2020 under the theme “Service Excellence pay particular attention to     improving the performance of the institution through service excellence, adequacy of benefits and general administrative efficiencies.”
This strategic plan is a product of ongoing consultation and collaboration. I would like to thank all those who contributed through direct participation in the planning process as well as through feedback on our programmes and services.
The efforts have ensured that the plan will have the most bearing impact on Zambian employers and workers as it focuses on their priorities.
The board has been implementing a change management process which seeks to turn around the operations of WCFCB to respond to expectations of     stakeholders in the fast changing business environment.
Therefore, this strategic plan is intended to serve as a transformational management tool to carry the vision of the board and management which, in the long term, seeks to transform the institution into one of the Top Ten Best Performing Organisations in Zambia.
The strategic plan sets institutional priorities that seek to address the strategic direction of the board for the next five years bearing in mind the developments that have occurred within the local and international social security environment.
The board will further seek to refocus its attention on the customer in the provision of second to none employment injury compensation services.
This document reviews the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities and present a series of statements relating to WCFCB’s vision, mission, core values and objectives. It also sets out its proposed strategies and financial projections.
Dr Nkumbula also emphasises in the executive outlook as follows: “As we embark on this strategic planning cycle, I am excited about what the future holds for WCFCB, safety at workplace and compensation of workers that are disabled as a result of accidents and or occupational diseases arising out of and in the course of their employment.
This strategic plan is much more than a guide for WCFCB’s activities over the next five years. It sets out the ways in which we will focus our resources and position our organisation to fulfil its mandate. It is an investment in the future of workplace safety and a commitment to collaboration and accountability.
As set out in our mission statement “To effectively, efficiently and professionally administer a quality employment injury scheme that provides the best value of compensation to all beneficiaries,” the board exists to protect workers and employers through a sustainable nofault injury insurance programme by preventing, caring and supporting them.
To effectively achieve the board’s mission, we must always consider the environment in which we operate. The board faces significant societal and legislative challenges that among others include the informal sector coverage, unemployment, weak legislation and lack of national policy on safety and the rising health care costs.
As we developed this strategic plan, we took these factors into account, as well as emerging safety and compensation issues, such as those related to occupational diseases.
Our environment is constantly changing and so our strategic plan must be proactive, dynamic and adaptable. Now is the perfect time for the board to refocus its priorities in more effective and meaningful ways.
The board is in a stable financial position to achieve Service Excellence. We are building a solid foundation that will develop effective relationships in the community and establish a balanced approach in meeting the needs of beneficiaries.
These are all excellent starting points for the work ahead of us, as we strive towards safety, compensation and service excellence.
Together, we will strengthen the culture of “keep safety in mind and return to work.”
The author is corporate affairs and customer services manager
Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board

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