The K7million per sitting allowance for Board members serving on Zambia Railways approved by Works and Supply Minister Christopher Yaluma is absolute day light robbery from the people of Zambia which should be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
If indeed the Minister is quoted correctly when he said, “The K 500 million for each member is crazy. I cannot sanction that payment. I would be fired by State House if I ever sanctioned those huge allowances. What I have approved is in the range of K 7 million per sitting per member and that is in line with most parastatals,” he said.
If indeed as he suggests, this is the norm in all Parastatal organizations then we submit that this is another from of corruption and abuse of authority and resources which should be condemned by all right thinking people.
It is sheer madness that this country goes to European countries to borrow money only to pay such outlandish allowances which are nowhere near the prevailing salaries of highly qualified Zambians working in specialized fields.
First of all most of the Board members on the Zambia Railways Board have absolutely no clue about transportation apart from the layman’s ability to grasp a general appreciation of a business concern.
True, Boards are not meant for experts, but it is equally true that Board members must be able to contribute productivity to the general welfare of the organization on which they sit. This includes understanding, accepting and appreciating the circumstances under which a company operates.
Zambia Railways is being revived from the US$120million Eurobond loan. This money is not for consumption or Directors emoluments, it is mean for productive investment and the Directors should be the first people to put service before self.
We don’t agree with Minister Yaluma that the members should receive K7million each per sitting. This figure has no bearing on the performance of the company, but more importantly is exorbitant and unreasonable, compared to the prevailing wages and salaries of full time experts in the various professions.
Indeed it does not make sense to pay these colossal amounts for a few hours work in a day when a teacher at a Secondary School who works the entire month earns less than K3million net.
We are gratified that the Minister has also dispelled reports that the Chief Executive was to be suspended for refusing to approve the K500million allowances that had been demand by the Board.
The Minister must now ensure that the officers victimized by the Board including the Chief Financial Officer are allowed a free hand to operate with a free mind without having to worry about a Board that has shown little if any interest in the welfare of the organization.
If the truth were to be told few if any senior officers at the company earn that kind of money.
It is time that Zambians began to put national service before self. Unless this spirit is inculcated such ridiculous demands will continue to hound Parastatals which will ultimately collapse under the weight o f inept management as the officers are frustrated into inertia and non performance.
Time is now for the Government to act and find more meaningful and dedicated board members that will work for the nation.