State to improve care for retirees

Roland Msiska
Roland Msiska

SECRETARY to the Cabinet Roland Msiska says Government wants to ensure that retirees are taken care of because they are currently suffering due to a poor pension scheme.
Dr Msiska noted that Chile has a robust pension system which has helped it to have a surplus of US$160 billion while Zambia’s overall budget annually is US$7 billion.
He said retirees are currently being paid as low as K100, hence the need to stop paying a wholesome retirement package.
Dr Msiska also said government is putting in place measures to ensure that the country has a professional, corrupt-free and pro-poor public service.
“Our productivity and discipline as a civil service are on the low side. But measures are being put in place to address the situation and make the civil service robust,” Dr Msiska said.
He was speaking on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) television programme Sunday Interview.
Dr Msiska said the civil service is a cadre of well qualified personnel but only the attitude is bad.
“Reforms to make the civil service robust are underway although some changes will require amendment of the law,” he said.
Dr Msiska said in the past, anyone joining the Government was oriented at the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA) so that they could deliver better.
“We have already made some success. For example, the payroll in the past was riddled with ghost workers but we have cut it down to almost zero and our civil servants are among the best paid in the region,” he said.
Dr Msiska said Government is moving away from a paper filing system to avoid cases of files going missing.
“We have a robust e-system going on and we will soon start filing files electronically,” he said, adding that by December 31, e-governance will come to fruition in Zambia.
And Dr Msiska said it is not strange that jobs change when government changes.
“This is not unique to Zambia. In the United States of America, 10,000 to 16,000 jobs changing within Washington. You come with the incumbent and leave when he leaves. In Chile, 4,000 jobs change,” he said.
Dr Msiska said in Chile, everybody from the position of the assistant director is changed.
On recruitment of civil servants, Dr Msiska said due to the high unemployment rate, people turn up in large numbers.
“When you advertise a single position, you will probably have 2,000 applicants all with Master’s degrees. To narrow down to the number you want is interesting,” he said.
Dr Msiska said the civil service is actually over-capacitated as most people have degrees.
And Dr Msiska said it is important to have a civil service that is professional and adheres to the policies of the sitting government.
“The manifesto of PF speaks of professionalism. And everyone has been given jobs based on merit,” Dr Msiska said.
He praised Government for appointing permanent secretaries mostly from within the government who were directors.
“This government has done very well by appointing people who were directors in various ministries as permanent secretaries. This is very good for the system,” he said.
Dr Msiska gave an example of district commissioners whom he said must possess both the technical and political skills.
“A district commissioner should be one who is able to mobilise the community and has political allegiance,” he said.
Dr Msiska said the Government has the right cadre of district commissioners because they are qualified and have the necessary skills.
Meanwhile, Dr Msiska said any civil servant who will be found wanting in the Auditor General’s report will have to face the necessary disciplinary measures.
“There is a management circular from the Secretary to the Treasury to all the permanent secretaries saying anyone found wanting will be dealt with and money has to be recovered,” Dr Msiska said.