The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in Muchinga province has observed that government’s debt relief initiative for civil servants will give relief to the public.
ZCTU Muchinga province regional coordinator, Nondo Kasanda, said the debt swap initiative comes as a relief to many public workers whose marriages had literally broken down as a result of the huge sums of money they owed financial lending institutions.
Mr. Kasanda has told the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) in Chinsali today in an interview that the debt relief initiative should not be politicized as it is being done in good faith.
He said the implementation of the debt swap initiative which announced by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga last Friday, demonstrates government’s desire to improve the welfare of its employees.
Mr. Kasanda recalled that this is not the first time that the Patriotic Front (PF) government has come to the aid of the highly indebted public workers.
He said that in 2013, government awarded unprecedented salary increment to civil servants with some getting as high as 200 percent effective September 1, 2013.
He explained that the huge debts that public service workers have with various financial lending institutions, had not only affected their families but also demotivated.
Mr. Kasanda stated that as a result, many civil servants could not concentrate at work hence service delivery was affected.
“Any one opposing debt swap does not understand how much the debt has demotivated workers. Some workers run away from their duty stations because of debt,” he said.
Mr. Kasanda, who is also Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) Muchinga regional organising secretary, said some public workers are sick while others go to the extent of committing suicide due to the debt burden.
He added that the debt swap initiative brings a lot of relief to the public workers.
“Marriages are broken due to debt and so for us in Muchinga, we don’t care what other people are saying whether it is politics or campaign, as long as workers’ debts are paid off. It is a historical and excellent move,” he added.
Mr. Kasanda further noted that the PF administration has been consistent in handling the welfare of the public workers.
“Imagine three months no deduction on your pay slip. It is a good relief for our workers and we eagerly wait to see this happening,” he added.
He charged that some workers who started work as early as 1996, have not yet been paid their settling in allowance while some have never been given leave travel benefits.
Mr. Kasanda said the ZCTU in Muchinga want debt swap initiative to be orderly and benefit everyone.
“We appeal to the Human Resources department to ensure they do a good job to the best of every public worker in the civil service,” he said.
He said data should be well captured to avoid future problems that might arise after the implementation of the debt swap initiative.
He also appealed to the public workers to avoid going back to heavy debt again after the successful implementation of the debt swap initiative.
“With this debt swap initiative, workers should be motivated to do service delivery in communities. Let the public appreciate and support governments initiative,” he said.
He stated that it is not good to continue opposing even when government does something positive like reduction of school user fees to K200 and K150 per term in rural and urban schools respectively and also reduction of college fees.
“Now the PF government decides to implement the debt swap initiative that was decided last year and you say it is politics. Then this is good politics. You reduce school fees, you reduce college fees, you pay K2,400 to vulnerable people through social cash transfer and you do debt swap to civil servants, you need to be appreciated,” said Mr. Kasanda.