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Alba Iulia
Sunday, November 21, 2021

Labour movement cries foul over Government’s U-turn on Debt Swap

Headlines Labour movement cries foul over Government's U-turn on Debt Swap

The labour movement in Muchinga Provinces has expressed concern on the new dawn government’s unexpected decision to recover the debt swap money from civil servant’s salaries.

Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (CSAWUZ) General Secretary Makai Makai says government’s decision to recover the debt swap from civil servants is unfortunate.

Mr Makai says on September 14, 2021, the Union learnt through the press and in particular through the Zambia Daily Mail that the Government had suspended the debt swap scheme for civil servants.

“On Tuesday September 14, 2021, we leant through the press and in particular through the Zambia Daily Mail that the Government had suspended the debt swap scheme for civil servants,” Mr. Makai said.

In a statement, today, Mr Makai says the Union is not happy with the suspension because his Union , as a stakeholder and as representatives of the workers , was never consulted on the matter.

As representatives of the workers, Government should have first consulted the Union before implementing the suspension because the Union had earlier contended that the debt swap initiative is contained in the addendum to the 2021 collective agreement and it is bidding to both the Government and the Public Service Unions that signed it, he adds.

Mr. Makai argues that to date, they ( the Unions ) have not sat with the government to agree on the way forward regarding the initiative following the suspension.

The CSAWUZ General Secretary says it is surprising that the Government of the republic of Zambia has made deductions on the salaries of the civil servants in the month of October, 2021.

Mr. Makai said the Union leadership does not understand if this is the resumption of the suspended debt swap scheme for civil servants or not.

Mr. Makai said the Union were not informed or consulted about the deductions which have been made through the Public Service Micro Finance Company (PSMFC) adding that to make the matters worse, not even the civil servants were so that they prepare themselves for the deductions.

The CSAWUZ General Secretary has since appealed to President Hakainde Hichilema to urgently appoint the Permanent Secretary for the Public Service Management Division (PSMD) so as to quickly look into the pending issues affecting the civil servants.

“Given that we work closely with the Public Service Management Division (PSMD) on issues concerning workers, we strongly appeal to the Republican President Hakainde Hichilema to urgently appoint the Permanent Secretary for the Public Service Management Division appointed so that the Union can be having regular consultation with them on matters regarding the workers,” he said.

Mr. Makai said the Union is finding itself in the dark on decisions made by the Government that affects the workers adding that it is important to have the Permanent Secretary for the Public Service Management Division appointed so that the Union can be having regular consultations and discussions on matters that affects the workers.

According to this month’s payslips, government has started recovering money effective October 2021 for the next 11 months from civil servants who benefited from the debt swap that was suspended last month.

The move is in a bid to recover money from the civil servants following the suspension of the debt swap initiative.

In July this year Government implemented the debt swap scheme after three years of negotiations with the Public Service workers unions.

Meanwhile,the labour movement in North-western province has joined the nationwide appeal to government to rescind its decision on debt swap recovery from civil servants who had benefited.

Professional Teachers Union of Zambia (PROTUZ) provincial chairperson, Gilly Kakunta says the debt swap recovery has come as a surprise to the teachers as the unions were not consulted by government.

Mr Kakunta in an interview said that there is an outcry from the teachers as they now have double deductions on their pays slips.

“The government should have sat with the union and consult with them before making such a decision” Mr Kakunta said.

He also appealed to the President to get rid of people who are misleading him on the debt swap matter.

According to this month’s payslips, government has started recovering money effective October 2021 for the next 11 months from civil servants who benefited from the debt swap that was suspended last month.

The move is in a bid to recover money from the civil servants following the suspension of the debt swap initiative.

In July this year Government implemented the debt swap scheme after three years of negotiations with the Public Service workers unions.

21 COMMENTS

  1. There are many decisions that the UPND Government has made without consultation. I find Bally’s reasoning outlandish. To him as long as it was done by PF and ECL then it’s wrong. He’s courting trouble. If the Debt Swap was a product of collective bargaining then Govt is in breech of the Industrial & Labour Relations Act. Instead of lamenting, the Unions must declare a dispute. Many of their members are contemplating to withdraw their contributions because they don’t feel represented. ZCTU which is the mother is conspicuously quiet, may be their fingers are soiled. They’re smelling faeces.

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  2. Chipante pante Government is in control…this is what you should expect for the next 5 years…no consultation…no official Government spokesman..anyone can say whatever they want at any time contradicting themselves…….at least there was order in PF Government….Let HH demolish all the roads,universities,Airports,Hospitals etc done by Lungu since whatever Lungu did is wrong in the eyes of baby President HH and his UPND minions

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  3. It’s for your own good your f00lish short sighted Zambians. The successful business man and now president knows what he is doing. Is that even money to cry about? Some of us earn equivalent 300,000 zmw a month

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  4. The problem with civil servants is that they want to get rich while working for government .. come on be productive with your own time
    and i dont think this government is as reckless as the previous one to start entertaining this stupidity

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  5. The problem with civil servants is that they want to get rich while working for government .. come on be productive with your own time
    and i dont think this government is as reckless as the previous one to start entertaining this stupidity

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  6. I still need someone to make me understand the whole debt swap fiasco. How can one borrow money from the Bank on his/her own and expect Government or any other person to settle the debt for them. To me, it doesn’t make at all. It’s utter nonsensical. Besides, some people borrowed for selfish motives, drinking alcohol, playing around with the opposite sex or what they call ” playing adult games” e.tc. and Government must pay for them. What about those who are disciplined and operated within their budget, how were they going to benefit?? The people of Zambia did a fantastic job to vote out the PF Government, they were simply wasteful. I even doubt the caliber of the economic advisors to the former President. SHAME!!

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  7. They should also spend more time on analyzing labor productivity Fore instance consideration also for minimum wage should be sectorial or regional or blanket as in decisions recently If not well calculated to give a margin contribution could result in loss of sectors and work also alternatively it can result in reallocating labor resources effectively to perform sectors But the issue is that there must be a barest minimum for National minimum wage that can be charged shifting and allocating labor effectively to regions and sectors Those are bigger issues also

  8. I feel for civil servants. Not all of them borrow for the wrong reasons. Some borrow because they want to educate their children or build themselves a house before retirement. HH and his UPND government should learn to dialogue. If indeed the debt swap was part of civil servants collective agreement then they have every reason to take government to court for breach of collective agreement. The civil servants unions should commence legal action against government for breach of collective agreement.

  9. You had three months of debt swap which is July, August and September. It’s now over so obviously deductions should start from October.

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  10. Alatasha civil servant. They thought they were doing themselves service by kicking out PF. Who knew maybe PF was sharing mukula and gold money through that initiative. While it was a worst disservice of your life.

    I encourage all civil servants to give bally time. Lol!
    #MWAJUMPA MITUNDO. Ifyashala mwakabikako mulibakakamba sanaaa

  11. @11 John Phiri.

    Let me explain it for you my dude.
    What happened was that the government, together with the Unions, negotiated a plan whereby the government would take the loans that civil servants owe various institutions so that instead of the civil servants paying back those institutions, the civil servants would pay back the government.
    Let me explain it another way: the government (through the Micro-Finance Company) was going to pay lending institutions (banks, microfinance institutions, etc…) all the money that civil servants owe them. And THEN these loans were going to be transfered to the government so that civil servants would then owe the government instead.
    To be clear, civil servants were still going to pay back their loans – only this time it was to the government…

  12. @11 John Phiri.
    This was done for two main reasons:
    1. DEBT SWAP. When you hear ‘Debt Swap’, THIS is the only part this plan refers to. Right now, Government owes civil servants hundreds of millions of kwacha in emoluments (e.g. unpaid salaries, Settling-In Allowances, etc…).
    Now, instead of the government paying civil servants this money, they wanted willing civil servants to agree to SWAP money which the government owes them with the money which civil servants owe lending institutions. This would ease the burden on the money the government owes civil servants while at the same time reducing the loan amounts civil servants owe.

  13. @11 John Phiri.

    2. Restructuring of Loans. Once the government took over the loans, they would then allow for civil servants’ debts to be restructured. This was going to be done by reducing interest rates and allowing for the loan to be paid back across a longer period (and thus reducing the monthly installment).
    What was in it for the government? They’d get their money back with interest and thus make a profit off this restructuring process – although across a longer period of time and not a lump sum.

    Was it a good idea? That’s not for me to say. I just wanted to explain what was going on. NOBODY was going to get free money, and the government was NOT going to bail out any civil servant.

  14. @11 John Phiri.

    A few more points:
    To allow for this process, the government initiated a hold on the deductions from civil servant salaries for three months (for the months of July, August, and September). This money would be recovered because the repayment of loans would just be delayed by three months for each of the missed installments – again, this was not free money. It was a HOLD on the repayments while ‘reconciliations’ were ongoing with the Ministry of Finance, Public Service Management Division, and Micro-Finance Company.

  15. @11 John Phiri.

    Enter the New Dawn.
    After the UPND government came in, they suspended the entire Debt Swap plan in September. And this included the hold on the deductions for the month of September – meaning civil servants got a hold for two months only (July and August) and not three as was agreed between the unions and government (like it or not, there WAS an agreement made between representatives of government and the workers. I am just stating what happened).
    The announcement this month is that the government has now added MORE deductions on top of whatever civil servants already owe – they’re calling it the ‘Debt Swap Recovery’ and this is a deduction to get back the money which was not deducted from civil servants’ salaries in the months of July and August.
    This is what is…

  16. WHY PUNISH CIVIL SERVANTS FOR WHAT WAS AGREED BETWEEN A GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBIA AND THE WORKERS’ REPRESENTATIVES. NO CIVIL SERVANT JUST WOKE FROM THE BLUES AND SAY GIVE ME DEBT SWAP. THIS DEBT SWAP ISSUE, A WISE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT SUSPEND THAT (DEBT SWAP) UNILATERALLY WHAT WAS ALREADY AGREED. IT SHOULD BE LOOKED AT AND IMPROVED UPON AS IT HELPS CIVIL SERVANTS. A GOVERNMENT THAT HELPS ITS OWN CIVIL SERVANTS IS A RESPONSIBLE GOPVERNMENT. SO, NEW DAWN WAKE UP, DONT BE OVERZEALOUS. HELP YOUR OWN PEOPLE…

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