THE Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) has opposed government’s proposal to prioritise employing health workers who have been volunteering in government facilities.
ZMA sectretary general Kaumba Tolopu has told Mwebantu in a statement that his association notes with alarm, the rhetoric from Ministry of Health officials that appears to ask trained doctors to volunteer their hard-earned skills in government facilities, without salaries and with no clear roadmap to fair and reasonable employment.
He said the move functionally strong-arms doctors into offering their services for free, and potentially paves the way for a system in which government is not obliged to pay doctors for their work.
“Zambia currently has close to 700 medical doctors and dental surgeons who have been awaiting employment for almost two years.
These are fully qualified professionals, who have already spent 7+ years in medical school, and who in past years have been immediately absorbed into the Government as civil servants at managerial level. ZMA finds the expectation that these cadres should now be expected to work and risk their lives without the reasonable protections and privileges granted to members of the civil service to be egregious and unreasonable,” he said.
Dr Tolopu has since called on government to absorb all doctors into the civil service with immediate effect, and with remuneration at the appropriate level.
He said the current health crisis must not be used as an opportunity to exploit those working at the front lines.
“Doctors, like all hardworking Zambians, have obligations, needs and family responsibilities. We are not exempt from the high cost of living. Nonetheless, doctors have made huge sacrifices in order to serve the nation, and continue to do so in the line of duty. Many doctors have indeed already been volunteering through the various COVID waves, at great personal cost, and with no promise of compensation for that contribution, save for the nation’s gratitude, which they cannot use to feed themselves or fill fuel their tanks. The labour of medical doctors is not free, and cannot be treated as such,” he said.
Dr Tolopu has further urged members to desist from bowing to exploitation attempts by government adding that the association will continue to hold consultative deliberations that promote fairness.
He also called on government to expedite the process of promotions and recruitment of healthcare professionals, to address the huge human resource deficit in healthcare delivery.
(Mwebantu, Saturday, January 8th, 2022)
The Future of Zambia’s Tourism is Domestic
There has been a lot of emphasis placed on promoting international tourism in Zambia, with little attention given to domestic tourism, which is often relegated to being a buffer for the tourism industry’s off-seasons, when there are fewer international guests.
This is unfortunate in the wake of the recent turmoil that has rocked the industry. When international travelers were forced to stay home due to COVID-19 lock-downs, tour operators were forced to look to the fact that domestic tourism can play a key role in shaping the future, beyond just revitalizing the sector after COVID-19.
When inflow of international travelers decreased by up to 80 percent and bookings were cancelled due to global lock-down measures, Zambians were called upon to help the industry stay afloat. They responded to this distress call and took advantage of discounts and other promotional packages that some operators were offering. They also spread word of special offers and the need to visit various destinations to help people working in tourism keep their jobs.
For a country like Zambia, which attracts considerably fewer international tourists than countries in the region such as South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, the need to promote domestic tourism cannot be overemphasized.
Having a stable base of local tourists would not only complement the tourism sector’s low share of international guests, it would also help cushion operators from severe impacts of losing international tourists due to unforeseen circumstances in the future. As mentioned earlier, when Zambians were called upon to visit the country’s tourist destinations in order to help the industry survive the impacts of COVID-19, many did. Imagine what can be possible if deliberate steps are taken to keep the momentum going?
Promoting domestic tourism would also have conservation benefits. Zambia’s conservation sector is intricately linked with tourism. Public resources allocated to conservation over the years have been low. According to a report by International Growth Centre (IGC) in Zambia, between 2010 and 2018, only an average of 0.6% of Zambia’s national budget was allocated to environmental and wildlife conservation. As a result, conservation activities have heavily depended on funding from donor organizations and tourism firms. Boosting domestic tourism will increase operators’ profits which would translate to increased donations to the conservation sector. For the conservation sector, increased funding would ensure that Zambia’s ecosystems and wildlife are protected.
The Government also recognizes the strategic role that domestic tourism can play, as it has been identified as one of Zambia’s promising prospects for economic growth and sustainable conservation. Earlier in 2021, Former Tourism and Arts Minister Ronald Chitotela called on tourism operators to partner with Government to reduce the cost of domestic tourism in Zambia after COVID-19. In a statement issued to the media by the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer Sakabilo Kalembwe in April 2021, the Minister implored tourism operators to “see what they can give to the Zambian people so that domestic tourism can be boosted.”
Zambia is endowed with many beautiful landscapes and some incredible heritage sites. The country currently has 20 national parks that hold a great diversity of wildlife. This includes the world-renowned Kafue, Liuwa and South Luangwa national parks, which are counted among the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Combine this with diverse cultures and the many museums dotted across the country and you end up with something that can truly be appreciated by the local people.
It is worth noting that promoting domestic tourism cannot be achieved by the Government and tourism operators alone. We all have a part to play. As citizens of this beautiful and resource-rich country, we need to extend the “support your local team” slogan to the country’s tourism industry because supporting Zambia’s tourism is supporting local businesses and local communities. And while it is true that some operators may need to reduce their prices to cater for the local nature enthusiasts working with a tight budget, there are many establishments that are actually affordable. All that remains is for us to identify them and take advantage of their packages.
As global lockdown measures are slowly lifted and Zambia prepares to re-open its boarders for international tourists, players in the tourism sector should remember that while domestic tourists may not provide as much money as international tourists, the sustainability of the industry depends on Zambians buying into the idea that they can enjoy all that the country has to offer, without breaking the bank.
In other words, international tourism is what has sustained Zambia’s tourism sector up to this point, but domestic tourism is what will take it to the next level.
Nkanda Yatu launches a corporate collection for men
NKANDA Yatu is a well-known fashion label in Zambia founded by Head Designer Nkandu Kabaso and popularly known for its stylish and exquisite suits. In 2022 Nkanda Yatu has expanded its portfolio with an introduction of menswear to cater for the ideal corporate man. Starting the year 2022 on a high, Kabaso Nkandu jetted off to Kampala to launch the exclusive menswear collection in collaboration with prominent Ugandan Photographer Daville Mutabazi.
“We have made efforts to grow our clientele outside of Zambia over the past years; I chose to launch this collection in Uganda to expose our brand to the rest of Africa. Zambian fashion is growing and we are here to promote it”, said Nkandu Kabaso. The Winter/Fall 2022 collection is a unique blend of colours and patterns that are well-suited for corporate boardrooms and business networking events. For this particular collection, Nkanda Yatu Head Designer, Kabaso Nkandu sought inspiration from classic trends to which he added a touch of modern styles.
Following a successful 2021 with showcases at the Lusaka July and Windhoek Fashion Week, Nkanda Yatu will be a huge force in the fashion industry this year and a designer worth watching
Zamtel unveils Kasama Service Centre, pledges quality customer service
ZAMTEL has unveiled its state of the art customer service centre in Kasama, bringing the total number of new service centres to 43.
In addition to the Service Centres, Zamtel has also rolled out more than 80 Mini-shops across the country.
Zamtel Acting Chief Commercial Officer Keith Banda said this is in line with the Company’s new strategic direction of taking service-access closer to the customers.
Mr. Banda said Zamtel has had physical presence in Kasama at the Kasama Exchange but that the growing demand for products and services in the district required that the company open a dedicated and modern service centres.
“As part of our retail expansion drive, we have adopted a unique franchise model through which we are assisting enterprising Zambians to seize opportunities being created in the telecoms value chain. To this date, over 300 direct jobs have been created as more Zambians are taking up the opportunity to partner with Zamtel to run Service Centres,” Mr. Banda said.
He pledged that in 2022, Zamtel will be rolling out new and innovative products and that customers should look out for more value based customer service this year.
Mr. Banda said Zamtel stands ready to work with the Zambian government through the Ministry of Science and Technology in partnership with other independent developers in creating local digital solutions that will address local challenges.
He was speaking in a speech ready on his behalf by Regional Business Manager William Mwale.
And officiating at the event, Northern Province Permanent Secretary Bernard Mpundu commended Zamtel for the efforts in providing affordable and quality services to its customers.
“We can confidently say that Zamtel has now positioned itself quite well on the market and is one of those indigenous brands that makes us proud to be Zambian. It is gratifying to see that Zamtel is competing in a highly competitive market but has proven its capabilities for many years and the only thing we can do as Zambians is to support our own brand for it to grow even stronger,” Mr Mpundu said.
“With the opening of the Kasama Customer Service Centre, I hope many Kasama residents will take advantage of this location to acquire Zamtel Simcards and start enjoying excellent products and services offered by Zamtel.”
This was in a speech read for him by Northern Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr. Sineva Kambenja.
(Mwebantu, Thursday, January 13th, 2022)