Scores of Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) officers who earn about K700 net on average per month have been arrested after they went on strike yesterday to demand payment of salaries arrears which have been outstanding for the past three years.
Police acting spokesperson Ray Hamoonga confirmed the arrest of 21 officers, saying they have opened an inquiry file against all the officers who have since been remanded in police custody.
The protesting officers were arrested after they resolved to march to State House to seek President Michael Sata’s intervention into their matter, because they were not included in the general salary adjustement given to public workers.
This is after the officers were served with letters of suspension and dismissals by ZAWA management for demanding for improved conditions of service.
The over 21 ZAWA officers some with guns operating in Lusaka’s South Economic Zone Shantumbu ZAWA camp, South Luangwa, Livingstone and Mpika National Parks were waylaid by police as they were about to reach State House.
A combined team of armed military Police and other security wings in riot gear surrounded ZAWA officers and ‘captured’ them.
Senior Police officers confirmed the arrest of the ZAWA officers who have been detained at Woodlands police station awaiting for further instructions on how to proceed with the case.
ZAWA officers complained against none payment of their monthly salaries for over three years by government, turning them into destitutes.
They complained that efforts to resolve the problem amicably had proved futile, hence resolving to march to State House to meet President Sata whom they expected to hear their grievances.
“We gathered at the South Economic Zone Shantumbu Zawa camp and staged a peaceful protest and wanted to meet President Sata but we have been arrested and detained here at Woodlands Police Station,
“We are not violent people, the only thing we wanted was for the President to know that we have never seen our salaries for the past three years,” said one of the detained officers. The officers said that the protest was not about Lusaka, South Luangwa, Livingstone or Mpika national park officers, but all ZAWA officers across the country who had foregone their salaries for over three years.