THE PERMANENT SECRETARY,
Ministry of Health,
P.O. Box 30205,
16th August, 2018.
RE: MINISTRY OF HEALTH PERSONNEL TRANSFERS
It is with a very heavy heart and degree of frustration and desperation with which I am compelled to write this letter. If past and present experience with regard to the matter in subject is anything to go by, I will not expect the courtesy of an answer, or even an acknowledgement, however I would be happy just to have you read and take note of the concerns expressed.
I am based on the copperbelt and working in the mines as a process engineer.
My wife has served the Zambian Government under the Ministry of Health, Samfya District Hospital since her first appointment in July 2011, having entered as a registered nurse rising to a midwife (whose confirmation she is awaiting), so I think I can safely say I speak with some degree of knowledge in civil service matters, and in particular your ministry.
As a civil servant it is always my wife’s policy and that of other hard working colleagues that they serve the government of the day, and in so doing serve the people of Zambia to the best of their abilities. With the aforementioned, it is my considered opinion that I would be remiss in my duty if the issue of transfers was not brought to your attention.
If one has regard to the workforce in civil service over the past few years to now particularly in your Ministry, one sees glaring, obvious and hugely costly mistakes. Mistakes that can only be described as unperturbed, inhuman, unthrifty and inconsiderate with regards to the precious human resource.
Allow me to bring to your attention these lacunas in your Ministry. I know that one of the requirements for one to be transferred such a person needs to find a replacement to swap with. But how many people would voluntarily be willing to relocate from the urban to go and serve in the rural setup where there isn’t any tangible inducement? In as much as the old adage ‘’patience pays’’ might be apt, I have news for you sir, there is a limit to which patience indemnifies. Beyond that limit, it starts to pain and bleeds despair and frustration. It makes the heart spiteful. I know that this sounds mundane and perhaps a little condescending, and I am by no means making light of the issue, but someone can only be truly patient if he or she is able to see some form of light at the end of the tunnel. That however has not been our case despite many attempts of fighting for a transfer.
My wife and I are just one of the many couples who are constantly living away from each other in an effort to make ends meet. We are a couple who do not even know how it feels to stay under one roof as husband and wife. Our children are living as though they were orphans with only one parent. Our conjugal rights as a married couple and the rights of our children to enjoy interactions with both parents have unsympathetically been trampled upon by the authorities entrusted to defend them.
In as much as we would pride ourselves in being Christians of sound morals, we are also aware of how treacherous a heart can be. We cannot always be 100% confident that things will continue the way they are. My wife is only human. I am too. Any of us can give in to infidelity as this thread of love that holds us together keeps growing thinner and thinner with the passing of time and long distance.
How on earth are you expecting such a zest-drained and frustrated workforce to perform to full capacity? A workforce whose plight has been thrown into desuetude? How would you feel being incriminated as a reason for the collapse of your son’s and daughter’s marriage? Please try to put yourself in our shoes!
I am well aware of the procedures you have put in place to effect transfers. However I am very sceptical about their effectiveness and in my view they favour those with strong connections or the corrupt. I have seen people being transferred barely a year after being deployed. What criteria do they use? If my allegations sound spurious, kindly take time to check through your transfer records and confirm in all honesty how many were purely effected according to the laid down procedures. Were they all done on swapping basis, ill health related or are there those with unexplained circumstances and how many?
As this letter is intended not only to bring the above to your attention, but also to perhaps try and assist in alleviating the problem, herewith my humble thoughts on the matter. Firstly with regards to postings; why can’t your ministry introduce some deliberate provision where you give a specific period of service to those in the rural areas after which those who have served especially the married ones can be allowed to move and join their spouses? Let the newly appointed occupy the vacancies created in those areas. It is my deep conviction that the said steps will help build strong marriages, cut down on divorce cases, reduce on STI transmissions and raise responsible children. Secondly, introduction of some special incentives will encourage people to work in rural setups. This will ease urban-rural cross transfers.
I do hope that the above gives you some punctilious food for thought, and perhaps I can expect your office and the ministry at large to take the lead in addressing these issues, which affect us all each and every day. Please help save our marriages!
Humphrey Chiswaswa (Mr)
Cc: Minister of Health