CIVIL Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (CSAWUZ) president Davy Chiyobe says the union is anxiously waiting for the appointment of a new Public Service Management Division (PSMD) permanent secretary in order to sort out certain issues regarding the debt swap.

In an interview, Chiyobe said there was need to have a clear direction over the debt swap as its suspension had seriously affected civil servants.

“It is true that the civil servants have been affected by the suspension of the debt swap. As leaders what we have advised is that there were some issues that we needed to sort out in the debt swap and which need to be done as urgently as possible. For us, we are ready to engage the new government to see the way forward. What we are just waiting for is the appointment of the PSMD PS, as you are aware the other one has been relieved from office. We are anxiously waiting and we just hope that by the time the President comes back, he will be able to appoint the PS for PSMD, including one for labour because those are the key people where these matters need to be resolved,” he said.

“You know where the challenge was, the former PS belonged to the other governance and he did not carry any mandate to say which way to go, his hands were tied. So now what we are requesting is His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema to expedite the appointment [of a] PS PSMD because that’s where that matter lies. So that immediately when he is appointed, we move in and unlock, agree and see the way forward. I think all the anxiety runs around over the non-availability of a clear direction over the debt swap. Yes, it has been suspended but what is the way forward because it is affecting people’s lives.”

Chiyobe urged civil servants to remain calm as the union tries to negotiate for a better debt swap.

“The salaries have started going in and for sure the banks have now deducted. It was just done for two months [and] immediately it was suspended and the banks have effected the deductions now. So we have to sit and see what is the way forward now and this one I can’t hide, it has seriously affected them because the banks have resumed the deductions. So the issues that are there which are critical are what is going to happen to the other two months which they were not deducting? Are they going to add interest [and] in that case who bears it?” asked Chiyobe.

“You know the challenges with this debt swap is that the workers themselves just woke up at the institute that they want to be deducted and some of them maybe they were remaining with two months, some of them were remaining with maybe with one month and they are dispersed. I think those are some of the issues which contained the debt swap, there would have been enough time to run through it because people would have been contacted to go this direction. There was no consultation. The civil servants, let them remain calm. We are the leaders who are involved in this and we are keen to find a better solution and a better debt swap whatever will come out. Because that is what is good for the workers and for sure they are highly indebted.”