CIVIL servants frustrating Government operations to undermine the smooth running of State affairs should be purged completely if service delivery has to be improved, President Edgar Lungu has said.
And President Lungu has said traditional leaders are not objects to be used by politicians aspiring to get into position of leadership but must be respected as part of the country’s governance system and the developmental agenda of the country.
President Lungu said civil servants who will be found to be obstacles to Government’s vision of delivering the best services to the people should not be transferred to other regions or ministries but they should be asked to leave the civil service.
Speaking after swearing in Michael Pwete and Sibanze Simuchoba as Chiefs and Traditional Affairs and Southern Province permanent secretaries respectively and Brenda Muntemba as High Commissioner to Kenya yesterday, President Lungu said it was not necessary to transfer inept civil servants from one ministry or region to another because that was not solving the problem.
President Lungu said the culture of spending time on Facebook at the expense of work should be stopped because it was unproductive. He told Mr Simuchoba to work hard and interface with all Government departments and find out why some economic infrastructure projects had stalled while others had taken too long to be completed.The President said permanent secretaries were supervisors of civil servants and that his expectation was to have on effective civil service that was going to perform to the expectations of citizens.
The President said he would not hesitate to get rid of sloppy and incompetent civil servants because the smooth running of Government largely depended on a loyal and dedicated cadre of civil servants.
“For you Mr Simuchoba, I do know that you know and understand Southern Province but I also have some knowledge of what is happening. You are the supervisor of the civil servants in the region and go and interface with all Government departments. You will have to let me know why economic infrastructure projects such as the airport, markets and bus station have slowed or stalled. Explain to me why we are not making progress and any civil servant blocking you, do not ask me to transfer them. I will just kolopa (mop) all the sloppy civil servants,” President Lungu said.
And President Lungu said Zambians should learn to begin respecting traditional leaders and should not use them as objects for their political ambitions.
Mr Lungu said chiefs were a critical component of the governance system and it was unacceptable that subjects could only visit traditional leaders to bribe them with freebies when seeking to take up political leadership positions.
He told Mr Pwete, the new permanent secretary at the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, that he (President) was expecting enhanced cooperation between Government and the traditional leadership. Mr Lungu said the role of traditional leaders should be extended to development, stating that the current plunder of natural resources such as the illegal and indiscriminate cutting of the Mukula tree could be controlled with the involvement of traditional leaders.
He stated that it was important to know the value of the Mukula logs before they were taken out of the country for export, adding that the country’s flora and fauna could be exploited to improve the living standards of citizens.
“If our traditional leaders had plundered the natural resources in their chiefdoms, we would not be where we are today.
“There has been plunder of Mukula logs and my expectation is that there will be enhanced cooperation between Government and the traditional leadership. It is not good that our flora and fauna is ending up in the wrong hands,” President Lungu said. The Head of State expressed concern at the scourge of early marriages for young girls and directed Mr Pwete to seriously deal with the vice which he said was robbing the girl child of her human rights and the future. President Lungu said traditional leaders were complaining of palaces and yet their subjects were not helping them but calling on Government to build official residences for the chiefs. He said there were chiefs that had not yet been gazetted but that civil servants were not working to ensure that such traditional leaders were recognized by Government.