The move by newly-appointed Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Colleen Zamba to start reinforcing the austerity measures announced by President Lazarus Chakwera last week is welcome.
For starters, the SPC yesterday held a meeting with principal secretaries to reiterate the measures and provide policy direction. She also announced new measures to ensure that the public purse is not abused. The SPC has banned lakeshore and out-of-duty station meetings. This means all meetings will have to be held within the boardrooms of government ministries, departments and agencies.
We believe this is a good start and a game-changer in ensuring financial prudence. Understandably, there could be hurdles along the way to implement the austerity measures.
We know there is a lack of fiscal discipline on the part of public servants and that some have perfected the habit of standing in the way of austerity measures when they see that they will be affected.
The SPC should nevertheless move on to enforce the measures without fear or favour because they are meant to ensure that taxpayers’ money is preserved
We know there are those public servants who are used to lakeshore conferences just to pocket allowances. The measures will hurt them, of course, but what we can advise them is to look at the greater good.
In the same vein, it would not make sense if the austerity measures are applied selectively. There is no need for some public servants to suffer at the expense of others who will want to continue living in opulence by abusing taxpayers’ money through endless travels.
Our plea to public servants is to ensure that they apply the austerity measures and not sabotage them. The SPC should also ensure that those not conforming are sanctioned accordingly in line with public service regulations.