OVER a thousand former government employees today marched to State House to protest over their unpaid dues.
The workers, who gathered at the entrance of State House, were demanding their benefits that the government owed them following termination of their employment.
Addressing the workers, Former Government Employees Association of Zambia (FGEAZ) president Elijah Simon Sakala said his members were saddened by the PF government’s failure to attach seriousness to their plight.
He said it was very painful that the party his members voted into power on the premise that they would attach importance to citizen’s welfare had failed to live up to its promise.
He explained that after the Secretary to the Cabinet wrote a letter to the Ministry of Justice regarding their payments, the latter informed his members that their files were missing.
It is very sad that this group you see here has been left out for 20 years now and their terminal benefits have not been paid. Today we were told that our file was missing at Ministry of Justice where we should have been paid. How can the file go missing?
We have waited for this money for the last 20 years. We don’t know really what is happening in government. We were 8,000 retrenchees but out of that number, half have died without getting their money. Because of what we have been told at the Ministry of Justice, we have decided to march here (State House).
He said there was a syndicate in government that was paying ghost retrenchees at the expense of his members.
There is a syndicate between the Ministry of Justice and Cabinet Office. We know that some ghost employees are being paid nearly every week but these who are real retrenchees and have suffered for the last 20 years are not considered,” Sakala alleged. “This is the reason why we have decided to demonstrate today. We earlier took government to court and judgment was passed in our favour in 2013 but from that time, we still have not been paid. The lives of our members are a disaster. We are even failing to pay for funeral expenses for our members who keep dying everyday. We really starving and our children are not going to school.
He explained that his membership included those that were on ARVs, the blind, widows and widowers, who were suffering due to government’s delay in paying them.
The blind men you see in the streets are our members but have resorted to begging because they have not been paid. The PF is not serious with what they promised the Zambians. If they were serious, they would have already paid us. Today we want to see the Head of State,
By press time, the retirees were not addressed and armed police officers kept them in the lawn adjacent to the State House entrance.
The retrenches are part of the group that was sent home between 1997 and 1999 but were not paid their retrenchment packages.
The retirees later decided to sue government over their money in 2011 and won the case in 2013.