By GEOFFREY CHISHIMBA CHIYUMBE –
COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) Eastern Province chairperson Reverend Sonye Banda says Zambia cannot develop when its citizens are lazy.
In his sermon during the commemoration of the National Day of Prayer at David Kaunda Stadium on October 18, 2016, Rev Banda said if some public service offices were private companies, they would have been closed.
“We don’t expect this country to prosper when you are lazy. You hang your jacket to a chair at 14:00 hours and you knock off; do you think Zambia can develop?
“Some of the offices, if they were private companies, sembe yanavaliwa kale (they would have been closed already) because there is no sense of responsibility in what people are doing, all they are looking for is to get a salary,” Rev Banda said.
The prelate said: “When we visit your office, you must see and remember that you are there because of us. When we put on a tie, you attend to us fast but when we come and look like we come from the village, you chase us with your eyes.”
He said sometimes a paper that can take only two minutes to be signed takes 14 days to be taken to some offices.
He cited revelations in the Auditor General’s report that hinge on corruption and abuse of public resources by the civil servants.
He said Government officials have been cited for mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds.
“It is unbelievable, for instance, that officials in the Ministry of Health procured expired antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).
“This just shows the rot which is in the civil service. It shows there are no oversight measures, there are no foresight measures, there are no systems and regulations that can detect when people are stealing money and bring them to book,” he said.
Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) party spokesperson Antonio Mwanza said, “Imagine, they went as far as buying expired drugs; K789 million was spent on expired ARVs and that is allowed in this country.
It is unbelievable.”
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) was recently in the news with the abuse of donor funds, or a possible case of fraud involving alleged misappropriation of donor funds, as revealed and exposed by EMM auditors.
We have read of a situation involving the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA), the professional body for accountants in our country, allegedly threatening to de-register EMM professional auditors.
ZICA allegedly threatened to withdraw the practicing license of EMM, who are its registered professional members, for exposing that scandal at ZNFU.
These are professional bodies and unions that are expected to advance and promote professional work ethics amongst their members.
The situation is indeed worrying and disturbing.
An organisation is a collection of individuals who come together and work towards the realisation of a common objective.
However, for any organisation to flourish, it is important for the employees to operate at their full potential, which unfortunately is not the case in most of the organisations especially so with the Zambian civil service.
We often hear from the Zambians who have been privileged to ply their professions in foreign countries that yes, the Zambian work culture is very bad and retrogressive to development, and that we really need to up the game here.
We have a very bad work culture driven by a wrong mindset toward work.
What type of workforce does Zambia have today?
We know with certainty that not all employees in the organisation utilise their full potential. There may be many reasons responsible for this.
They may not associate with the goal of the company, they may have problems with their team, the boss or the subordinate or it may be a general problem of attitude.
This fact necessitated the classification of the people into three categories based on the level of engagement – engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged.
There are other classifications, but this one is based upon the level of commitment or engagement of employees.
A brief description about the three is given below.
Actively disengaged: This is the first category of people who are unhappy and they spread unhappiness in the organisation.
They are the disease centers in the company and spread the negative word, provoking and convincing people to leave their jobs.
However, they are the ones who stay the longest and removing those perceived to be different.
Competition is their idea of getting to the top or next level in the job.
Engaged: The second category of people are those who are and can be identified with words like passion, alignment and innovation; which means that they are passionate, connected to the company and are innovative.
They contribute new ideas and turn ideas into reality.
These employees are positive in their outlook and they spread positivity.
They are proactive; can anticipate the future market conditions and prepare well in advance.
Not Engaged: The third type of employees is the large majority present in organisations almost slightly over 50 per cent in number.
These only do what they are told only and they like only one instruction at a time.
They put in time but not energy and passion.
They may be either positive or negative in their outlook and opinion about the organisation.
They are not proactive and fail to anticipate what might be required next or what the next step is. They wait for instructions from their superiors.
In a research conducted by Gallup, it was found out that 16 per cent of the people working in organisations are actively disengaged, 28 per cent are engaged and almost 56 per cent are not engaged.
Although these statistics cannot be generalised, but they are true for majority of the cases and there may be deviation of plus or minus five per cent here and there for each category and not more.
The research therefore points out that people who are engaged are more efficient and deliver results optimally.
They have a better understanding of the business, more client focused and committed to make it big with the organisation they work for.
Within an organisation, the percentage of people in these three brackets can help determine the health of the company.
For example, a greater percentage of actively disengaged employees translates into even greater losses in productivity, erosion of employee morale and reduction in the bottom line.
We indeed have a mix in the Zambian work force.
We have the “yes sir” type, the “muzungu anikonde” type (be liked by my boss at whatever cost) and few that work professionally – fully engaged.
Unlike the case is in the developed world, here, we have a tight and locked labour market that is very static in nature which has contributed to most of the vices in the workplace, including corruption and lack of accountability.
Some blame this scenario on the saying that ‘you don’t bite the finger that feeds you’.
It is indeed not biting the finger but that the finger needs to be assisted so that it does the feeding effectively, in a professional manner.
We recall just recently that President Edgar Lungu, in his September 2016 inauguration speech, pledged to fight corruption at all levels regardless of who was involved.
Zambia, now more than ever before, needs a workforce that is professional, especially the civil service.
The Government, through the President, has demonstrated political will to root out laziness and corruption in the workplace.
It is therefore up to each and every worker to embrace this call.
Those occupying leadership positions of authority and decision making especially must be in the forefront to demonstrate this new philosophy in their daily business routine.
It is time for visibly felt and bold leadership in Zambia both in the private and public sectors of our economy.
Poverty knows no boundaries nor borders. It doesn’t choose. It affects every individual.
Yes, to transform Zambia from a predominantly import and consumption oriented country to a producing and exporting prosperous nation needs a workforce that is professional – passionate, disciplined, hard working, has a positive attitude and patriotic.
What do I mean by a professional workforce?
A professional workforce has the following characteristics combined together as a pattern or complete package:
They are focused on customer service – both internal and external.
They perform their functions to the best of their abilities.
They manage their time effectively. Time management is at the core of their work.
They often meet and exceed their performance expectations. They are not driven by time limitation.
They communicate effectively. Emails are very effective in a work environment.
They are assertive individuals. They walk the talk.
They are implementers and not chatter boxes.
They possess high moral and ethical standards.
They adhere to high values and principles.
They work as a team, and not in silos, for effective delivery of results.
They firmly believe in the “together we stand and divided we fall” principle.
They share knowledge and are not selfish to do that for the unfounded fear of being irrelevant.
They put accountability to govern all their activities in the workplace.
They always keep and show that magical and infectious positive smile, and maintain and cultivate a positive attitude.
This they do regardless of the circumstances.
To be continued….
The writer is a professional electrical engineer, project specialist and solar power plants expert with over 20 years of post qualifying experience of which 15 years has been from South Africa.