President Michael Sata yesterday stunned Zambians when he unexpectedly cut short the Labour Day celebrations after he refused to read his prepared speech to commemorate the event.
After the march past mostly by government workers, President Sata who was also expected to present awards to deserving workers, hastily stood up and called for the national anthem to be sung to conclude the day, much to the disbelief of invited guests and other top government officials.
He rubbished the talks on the wage freeze, threatening Labour minister Fackson Shamenda with a ‘freeze’.
Mr Shamenda attempted to remind President Sata that there were awards to be given, but the head of state said he would remain to award the.
“You have to look after workers; they don’t need to strike to ask for more pay. So please these are instructions Mr Shamenda, make sure that people get paid,
“They should not strike to ask for pay. And when we say wage freeze, wage freeze is for government workers and we should stop talking about wage freeze, if we are talking about wage freeze, we shall freeze you Mr Shamenda,” President Sata said.
He said workers saying they were already working under difficult conditions.
“I am told that there are awards to be presented… I don’t know why we are presenting the awards because the workers suffer, National Anthem,” said Sata.And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)president Leonard Hikaumba complained that the workers were denied an opportunity to present their problems to the President.
“We will present our message through other forums, but it would have been better to present our problems right here when he(President Sata) is around,” he said.
Meanwhile MMD leader Nevers Mumba has accused President Sata of belittling Labour Day by cutting short the celebrations.
He said it was worrying that the President failed to listen and address issues affecting the workers.