CSO queries SPC demand
As Colleen Zamba pens civil servants to donate to Freddy response
Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Colleen Zamba has asked civil servants, except those in districts that have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Freddy, to contribute money to a special fund that has been set aside to help survivors.
Zamba has called for the contributions through a circular to all controlling officers and heads of departments.
“In the spirit of ‘Tigwirane Manja’, as championed by President Lazarus Chakwera, I would like to appeal to all civil servants, except those working in the districts that have been affected, to make a financial contribution to support the affected areas,” the circular reads.
The circular has further indicated that civil servants on Grade B and above are supposed to make a contribution of K150,000 while the rest are asked to contribute K500 each to the office of the Secretary to the President’s account at Eco Bank
Zamba has also asked civil servants to contribute foodstuffs, decent clothes, shoes, beddings, utensils, soap, among other things, to alleviate the suffering of cyclone survivors.
She has asked controlling officers to help in collecting and delivering the items to district commissioners, who will coordinate with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) on distribution.
However, some civil servants have faulted their employer for forcing them to contribute to the fund.
One civil servant at Capital Hill said some of them have already spent a lot of money on relatives that have lost property in the Southern Region.
“Some of us may be based in, say, Lilongwe but we have relatives in the affected districts. In my case, I have already spent K500,000 on my two sisters who have moved to other locations in Blantyre after their houses collapsed.
“Now, I am thinking about replacing things they have lost. As such, the government should have given us freedom to choose what we want to do with our money, instead of adopting the approach it has,” the source said.
Another civil servant said she has no problem with making contributions to cyclone survivors.
“I am just against the approach the government has taken on this; it is counterproductive,” she said.
Meanwhile, head of the Civil Service Trade Union Madalitso Njolomole has welcomed the development, saying the country is in a crisis, hence the need for people to help one another.
“There are a lot of civil servants that have been affected by Tropical Cyclone Freddy. The union is also asking all civil servants to make their contributions,” Njolomole said.
However, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa has described the arrangement as strange.
“This is strange. Giving is a personal choice. While the intention may be good, setting minimum amounts one can give creates the wrong impression that civil servants are being coerced into giving,” Kaiyatsa said.
He said the government should respect people’s right to choose whether, when and how much to give to assist families affected by the tropical storm.