Zambian HIV advisers told to train others on the virus

A senior United Nations official in Zambia has accused district and provincial AIDS coordination advisers of hiding information on HIV and AIDS by failing to train others.

A senior United Nations official in Zambia has accused district and provincial AIDS advisers of hiding information on HIV and AIDS by failing to train others.

Speaking to participants at a workshop on leadership, governance and enhanced HIV and AIDS service provision yesterday [Tuesday November 20], Kenneth Mwansa, an advisor for the United Nations Joint Team on HIV and AIDS in Zambia, said Zambians have a tendency to hide information.

“The problem with the current civil service crop is twalibelala ukufisa [we are used to hiding]; you want to keep it to yourself. Even the district AIDS coordination advisor and the provincial AIDS coordinating advisor sit on what they have and don’t train others. Training is about change of attitudes and mindset. If we don’t change, plunderers will continue and you will continue to be called incompetent,” Mwansa said.

He encouraged participants to think of information shared as never lost but as coming back enriched.

He added: “When it does you will be mesmerised how it has been improved and you will learn from what you started. Sharing is not losing. Let us start organising district AIDS training teams to train people and not wait for it to be done from Lusaka – you have a lot of rich knowledge at districts.”

He added that high civil servants’ turnover also affects government efficiency in service delivery.

Mwansa said public service reforms during the era of former ruling party, the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), saw highly qualified young people taking over public sector jobs from older, experienced civil servants and this had affected delivery.

“With the MMD during the public service reforms we saw a lot of degree holders, who could not even draft a letter, get employed. With this, efficiency starts going down [and] the government suffers,” Mwansa said.

He added that current complaints by Vice-President Guy Scott over what he called mambala [crooked] civil servants was mainly due to the inexperience of staff and not necessarily due to them being corrupt or opposed to the PF government.

“It is not about civil servants willingly frustrating government but because of inexperience. We need a blend of the old experienced and the young, highly inexperienced civil servants,” Mwansa said.

 

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