Editor's Comment

Zambia needs patriotic civil servants

Government complex.

ZAMBIA Union of Government and Allied Workers president Muyaywa Kabisa has urged civil servants to be true patriots by focusing on service delivery and not dubiously enriching themselves on unjustifiable grounds of getting low salaries.
The union leader alleges that civil servants are compelled to put themselves on programmes meant for targeted groups of people due to low salaries.
This comes in the wake of 14,000 civil servants illegally placing themselves on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
Truth be told, there is no justification for civil servants to engage in any illegality. No matter the situation, the end does not just means.
Civil servants by virtue of their jobs and positions of influence are entrusted with financial and material resources for the benefit of the country as a whole.
Actually, the civil service, by virtue of its role, is considered critical for the development of any country.
World over the experience is that there is no government, no matter how good its development agenda, can develop without an efficient and effective civil service.
It is the civil servants who are entrusted with the mandate and resources to implement government policies and development projects.
As such, it is expected that civil servants will exercise high levels of integrity and patriotism by ensuring that resources entrusted in their custody are utilised for the intended purpose and that is for the good of the country.
Unfortunately reports that come from the service on the abuse of national resources are depressing and annoying.
Why should we have 14,000 civil servants accessing subsidised inputs at the expense of those who really need them?
While civil servants may contend that they are also vulnerable and therefore deserve to access such services, the truth is that there are people who are more vulnerable than them. Rural farmers, for instance, have no alternative income but wholly depend on farming.
Statistics indicate that those who are in formal employment and get a regular salary are only about 800,000 out of a population of 16,000. Today the number of people engaging in farming as a source of livelihood is certainly high due to high levels of unemployment. These are the ones who should be given priority in terms of accessing subsidised farming inputs. And this is the rationale behind the programme.
We have, through the Auditor General’s annual report, observed how civil servants are abusing resources for their own good at the expense of national development.
Just recently investigative wings revealed that the infamous 51 ‘ghost’ houses actually belong to a civil servant.
Year in, year out, the Auditor General’s report reveals cases of financial misappropriation and abuse at the hands of civil servants.
As long as civil servants continue with such retrogressive tendencies, it will be difficult to attain the much-desired level of development.
As rightly implored by the Zambia Union of Government and Allied Workers president, civil servants need to be patriotic and focus on serving the country as opposed to their personal interests.
It is a known fact that besides abuse of resources the work culture of civil servants has been a source of concern for many progressive Zambians.
Civil servants have been known for a laissez-faire attitude towards work. They report late for work and knock off before time. They spend productive hours running personal errands or entertaining themselves through social media or television.
Now, this is not the kind of work ethic that can push the country out of its poverty doldrums.
Zambia needs a civil service and a citizenry that is passionate about making the country a better place.
Many are the times that Zambians travel to other countries and envy the development there.
Needless to say, those countries are where they are because their citizens, including the civil service, paid the price by prioritising national interest over self.
Going forward there is need for thorough background screening of those employed in the civil service to ensure that only people with right attributes are considered.

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