HAKAINDE Hichilema says the underlining goal of the PF is to have a submissive, compliant civil service full of its political cadres.
On Tuesday, KBN TV reported a story where PF cadres harassed controller of government transport Shelly Chatugwa at her office – Ministry of Works and Supply in Lusaka.
They accused her of being a UPND supporter, an allegation she fervently denied, even by swearing to God.
The scruffy PF cadres daringly dragged her to the office of Ministry of Works and Supply permanent secretary Lenox Kalonde.
Kalonde mutely watched, as the cadres threatened Chatugwa.
On Wednesday, Secretary to Cabinet Simon Miti issued a statement directing his deputy, Patrick Kangwa, to discipline Kalonde for not protecting Chatugwa from PF cadres.
Addressing the media yesterday at his New Kasama residence in Lusaka, Hichilema, the UPND leader, spoke against PF hooliganism.
He complained that State machinery is now against citizens.
Hichilema condemned the PF’s continued systematic harassment of those in the civil service, especially that they work under difficult conditions like delayed and low salaries and other challenges.
“We sympathise with our civil servants – teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, soldiers and other classes of civil servants like those in local government and other quasi institutions,” he said.
“We sympathise with you and please, hear us out. We sympathise with you for the systematic, deliberate and sustained threats, intimidation and violence against you. Humiliation that we have seen over months, years!”
He said the suffering that civil servants were going through under the PF regime was uncalled-for.
“You may think that the country has turned its ears, eyes and senses away from you (civil servants). [But] we are with you; we share your pain,” Hichilema said.
He said what happened to Chatugwa, at the hands of “known PF thugs,” is typical of the PF.
“They did not do that privately but they made sure that they were filmed. They harassed Sherry and called her names. They dragged her out [from her office] and took her to the permanent secretary’s office. They flogged her and you all saw it!” Hichilema said. “This is what happened to a sister, a friend, a niece to somebody. We are watching and concerned. Some are saying ‘how come the PS (permanent secretary) did nothing?’ If the permanent secretary did something to protect Sherry, he would have been flogged. He would have been accused of being UPND as well.”
Hichilema said: “there is absolutely no leadership in this country and that’s why things are happening like this.”
“So, yes the permanent secretary should have done something but he was dead scared. Civil servants are dead scared in offices now. Why are they scared? It’s because of this hooliganism, thuggery which is unabated. No one is in charge anymore!” Hichilema noted. “The whole PF rank and file has failed the people of Zambia.”
He added that police did not need a public outcry, on social media platforms, to somewhat move in to ‘arrest’ the “PF brutes”.
Hichilema reminded Zambians that the PF thuggery could have been on Sherry “yesterday, today is your neighbour and tomorrow it’s you.”
“Defend each other, in the meantime. Protect each other, defend yourselves. We sympathise with all of you who are being harassed by PF cadres. We may not acknowledge you by name but we do sympathise,” he said. “We are with you! And this abuse will end. You are your brother and sister’s keeper under this brutal environment.”
Hichilema further said he sympathised with all those in the public service that have been retired under the pretext of national interest.
“Please know that this persecution is not accidental. The underline goal of the PF is to create a public service that is submissive, compliant to their narrow partisan agenda interests. This is systematic and deliberate and it has been going on for a long time,” he said. “It should not be allowed to be like that! The goal of the PF is to have all critical institutions of public service to be controlled by individuals who are their cadres. But that is not the design of the Constitution of Zambia. The design of our Constitution is to ensure equity and fairness and equal access to opportunities for employment in the public sector.”
Hichilema also indicated that there are enough men and women serving, with dignity, in the public service.
“But this toxic political environment that this regime has brought about has now culminated into a situation where there is erosion of confidence in the civil service. The UPND is committed to redressing this situation, as a matter of urgency,” he said. “We have clear measures that we’ll take to amputate this cancer that has been brought by this regime. We’ll have a professional civil service, irrespective of a political affiliation of one who works in the civil and public service.”
He pledged that under a UPND led government: “nobody will lose a job or be denied a job or promotion or transferred to a harsh location because of political undertones.”
“You’ll be encouraged to deliver based on your competence in your job. Your name won’t matter…” promised Hichilema. “We’ll go back to a professional service where you can rise to the office of Secretary to Cabinet without being a relative of someone in the UPND government, like it is now.”