MHEN, IBAM unhappy with Malawi civil servants’ public holiday

As civil servants are itching for a three-week leave of absence from duty, the Malawi Health Equity (MHEN) has expressed worry over the public holiday, arguing it will stifle delivery of health services in the country.

President Joyce Banda, in her capacity as Minister Responsible for Civil Service, has granted public officers leave of absence from duty from December 16, 2013 to January 3, 2014 to allow them to celebrate Christmas and New Year festive with their families.

But MHEN Executive Director, Martha Kwataine said the long holiday implies no regular immunizations at community level by health surveillance assistants.

“Firstly, most health workers have not yet received their November salary to date, they are frustrated. Processing of salaries for December will be a challenge too as most officials will be on holiday at Capital Hill.

Mlombwa: Condemns holiday

“In addition, Malawi is cholera season now, and already, couple with stock out of HTH Chlorine at Central Medical Stores, distribution of the commodity during this season will be affected,” said Kwataine.

She further warned that Malawi will be in trouble with likely possibilities of a cholera outbreak.

“Responding to such outbreaks will also be a challenge as it will be difficult to call people on holiday to support the reduced staff levels,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Indigenous Businesses Association of Malawi (IBAM) and Economic Empowerment Action Group (EEAG) have also expressed displeasure with civil servants’ three-week leave of absence from duty.

“Three weeks of leave is just too long for the economy. The leave will delay government payments for both large and small businesses and affect cash flows which will compromise businesses’ ability to pay.

“Those loses are going to be more if we consider the depreciation of the kwacha which is losing value on a daily basis,” said EEAG President, Lewis Chiwalo.

On his part IBAM President, Mike Mlobwa observed that the private sector is the engine for the country’s economic growth and if businesses are denied payments for three weeks, the losses will be colossal and will defeat the purpose of the holiday, which he said, is to save.

The leave, however, does not apply to public officers who are involved in emergency and essential services including hospitals, immigration, customs and police, according to Chief Secretary to Government Hawa Ndilowe.

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