BIOMEDICAL Union of Zambia president Daniel Mwimbe says it’s unfortunate and illegal for government to suspend the debt swap process without consulting unions.

On Friday, Vice-President Mutale Nalumango confirmed that government had suspended the debt swap and was looking at ways of positively restructuring it.

But in an interview, Mwimbe said government had not handled the debt swap well because unions were not consulted on government’s intention to halt the process.

He said an agreement had been signed between unions and the previous government.

“I think for us we are a union and we are an interested party in that debt swap. Our submission is that we want to submit to the new government that the way they have handled the debt swap is not the way it is supposed to be handled. You know that debt swap was an agreement signed by the government and unions, meaning the two parties were involved. These two parties by law are supposed to come together and agree whether the debt swap is sustainable or not sustainable and then agree whether they should suspend or even cancel it if the two parties can agree by law,” Mwimbe said.

“Not what we have seen where the President can simply announce that we have suspended this without consulting the other parties. Because we are not dealing with the party no, we are not dealing with the UPND as a party, we are dealing with the government. So, since unions signed that document with the government, regardless of which government was there, we have a government.”

Mwimbe charged that the cancelation of the process was illegal.

“So the government needs to follow the law and call for the two parties to sit on the table and make it clear to say ‘us we cannot sustain this based on these reasons, so you as a party from the other end, the trade unions, you should also tell us how you feel we should treat this, but this is how we wish to treat the workers’. That is very unfortunate and it is an illegality. It is not bound anywhere in the law, we need to sit to say ‘we have cancelled together and let’s forget about it and this is how we are going to treat the workers going forward’, so that is our submission as a union,” said Mwimbe.