The lifting of the wage freeze is undoubtedly good news for public service workers. Not so for the unemployed.
Any wage increases will take away from an already embattled Treasury to give to those already benefiting from subsidized maize and equally subsidized social services.
The greatest losers as usual will be the rural poor and unemployed who do not have ready access to services. They have to make do with the little they earn from maize and cash crops which they toil to produce under very difficult conditions and circumstances.
For a while the wage freeze arrested galloping inflation and made it possible for the informal sector to catch up.
Equally worrying is the fact that the lifting of the wage freeze, which applies to civil servants who have access to public funds, will exert pressure on the private sector which must struggle and strive to survive as the cost of production goes even higher.
While we appreciate the political imperative of Government commitment to improve the lot of public servants there must be equal consideration to the overall impact of any public wage increase which will have the direct effect of impacting on the broader money supply system, a direct link to inflation and increased cost of doing business.
Zambians in general would harbour no grudges to higher wages for public service workers if commensurate services were provided. Sadly agony is attempting to obtain service in public institutions such as hospitals, schools, Ministry of Lands and similar interface bodies.
Those seeking medical services at public clinics in Lusaka must wake up as early as 04hrs in order to queue and chance service for the few productive hours that these clinics operate. It would be very useful for the intrepid Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya to spend some time in Lusaka clinics to observe the kind of abuse that patients suffer at the hands of uncaring care-givers.
Most of these clinics have no working laboratories, pharmacies or let alone X-ray and as a result the University Teaching hospital is forever congested although it is supposed to serve as a referral institution.
The same uncaring attitude is true of other departments and ministries where service is provided at a fee.
It is amazing that the Anti-corruption Commission and Drug Enforcement Commission which daily harass and victimize innocent villagers turn a blind eye to pervasive corruption which takes place under their very noses.
How, for, example are traffic officers in Lusaka allowed to collect money at road blocks and not a single officer has been arrested for this practice? Is it that ACC and DEC officers use different roads or are they working in cahoots with these errant officers?
Nobody will begrudge public officers an increase for as long as they provide efficient service for which the public will not be expected to pay backhanders.