Ministry of Labour Permanent Secretary Chanda Kaziya has said the implementation of the debt swap for public service workers should not be politicised. Mr. Kaziya said the debt swap initiative is not in any way linked to politics but is meant for the good of government workers and Zambian people in general.
“For me I feel tying debt swap to politics is a disaster. This is something that is helping not only government workers but their families and other dependants too,” Mr. Kaziya said.
He said the debt swap initiative has been planned for over a long period of time even before the election season. Mr Kaziya told ZANIS that government programmes and policies should proceed as planned with or without elections.
“We have been working on modalities for debt swap for a long time, you don’t expect government programmes to cease just because there are elections,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary said the debt swap is well-intended and that it will help the beneficiaries to plan better.
And Civil servants national union leaders in Zambia are conducting sensitization meetings on the Debt Swap being implemented by the government. Addressing the civil servants in Kabwe, Zambia Union of Government and Allied Workers (ZUGAW) President, Muyaywa Kabisa, said the debt swap has been under discussion between the trade unions and government as since 2012.
Mr Kabisa explained that the objective of the sensitization is to create an understanding so that the civil servants do not connect the debt swap to the forthcoming elections.
Mr Kabisa emphasized that the move should not be deemed as a campaign strategy because for years government had committed to improve the conditions of service for civil servants beyond the election.
And Kabwe District Commissioner Samson Lupupa has reiterated that the passion by the government to save government employees through debt swap should not be doubted.
Mr Lupupa said the move is rather an indication that the government has heeded to the plight of the employees and acted by making the pronouncement into reality.
Last week, the Secretary to the Cabinet Simon Miti said that the debt swap is a mechanism intended to relieve civil servants of the debt they owe to financial institutions. Dr Miti urged all responsible officers to effectively manage loan applications to ensure that employees are within the laid down parameters in order for them not to fall back in the debt trap.
The Secretary to the Cabinet said this during the third 2021 Senior Public Service Management Virtual meeting held in Lusaka.
He said all loan applications should be approved by the controlling officers if the loans have to be repaid through the Payroll Management and Establishment Control (PMEC) system. The Secretary to the Cabinet said this shall be in addition to the current 40 per cent take-home pay threshold.
Dr Miti has also urged the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry to take advantage of the recent appreciation of the kwacha, to work on mechanisms that will promote improvements in the balance of trade.
He stated that the mechanisms will sustain the strength of the kwacha, adding that he is confident that the Ministry of Finance will closely monitor the performance of the Kwacha on the Foreign Exchange Market (FOREX) and proactively advise key players on activities that will make the kwacha remain buoyant.
The Secretary to the Cabinet has further encouraged line ministries and institutions to put up measures that will help avoid destabilizing the economy from the civil unrest that happened in South Africa.
“You may be aware of the civil unrest that occurred in South Africa last month. The effects of the civil unrest are yet to be felt and have the potential to destabilize economies in the region including Zambia”, he said.
With regards to the suspension of exports on day-old chicks and stock feed in order to arrest escalating prices, Dr Miti has said that the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock should continue to engage stakeholders on how best to reduce and sustain the prices of the commodities.
He said the ministry should also continue working out modalities that will ensure that the export of the commodities does not negatively affect the availability of the supplies on the local market.
Dr Miti explained that in order to enhance local industries in the production of raw materials, there is need for local investors to get involved in value addition, so that they become competitive at regional and international markets.
The Secretary to the Cabinet has urged line ministries to develop mechanisms that will promote investment in value addition by local entrepreneurs.
Dr Miti has also reiterated the need for all civil service workers to remain non-partisan and to continue executing duties professionally during and after elections.
He has further urged all stakeholders involved in the election process to work closely with the Electoral Commission of Zambia in order to ensure that elections are held smoothly.
The Secretary to the Cabinet has encouraged the citizens to continue upholding and applying the national values and principles at all times.
He said government will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue giving guidance, while urging all citizens to continue observing the COVID-19 guidelines.