via Chickens coming home to roost – DailyNews Live 26 MARCH 2014
Zimbabweans have always known that civil servants are the first to get paid in the land, starting with teachers and soldiers followed by other workers.
With salaries staggered from the 16th to the 21st of the month, they have always been the first to carry groceries home and quench their thirst in bars long before private sector and parastatal workers follow suit.
Last week, a small article in a State-run newspaper announced civil servants’ paydays had changed for the bulk of the civil servants, much to their chagrin.
This must be the first time that government has switched pay dates since independence in 1980. And it shows how desperate the Zanu PF government is.
The move has irked the union bosses who feel that they should have been told first, instead of reading about it in a newspaper. This shows a serious cash crisis bedevilling the government and workers doubt whether they will get their meagre salary increment of $79 which they accepted on the grounds government was broke.
President Robert Mugabe’s government has been lying to its servants for a long time.
First, it gave them low salaries and promised to hike them when the situation improved. Well, civil servants naturally thought Chiadzwa diamonds would make the difference. But alas, Tendai Biti, in charge of the Treasury during the unity government era, said he was not getting any proceeds from the companies that were mining the stones and could not afford to increase their salaries.
When Mugabe campaigned in the run-up to last year’s July polls, he promised he would double their salaries.
Seven months into his seventh presidential term, the situation seems to be taking a turn for the worst.
Did the president not know then that his government was going to run into problems?
During negotiations for a pay hike a few months back, the workers were told their employer was broke and could only offer them a pay hike of $79, bringing the lowest paid pay packets $375 from $296. Civil servants had initially hoped to have the lowest paid getting at least $540, which is the current poverty datum line.
It’s not easy to adjust when one is suddenly told to stretch money which was not there in the first place.
To add to their woes, government has failed to meet their part of the bargain and has failed to implement the $79 increment they promised at the end of February.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, has said the increments will be paid at the end of April.
Contributions to the Public Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) were also hiked at the beginning of the year. Cuthbert Dube, the CEO, had a hefty salary of $500 000 and a monthly medical allowance of $40 000. It must hurt so much for the poorly-paid servants.
They must also be apprehensive because government has not met any of its promises.
Last month, civil servants discovered money owed to various creditors was not being remitted, leaving them in danger of losing property they have bought on hire purchase. Is the government now trying to pay its workers by using money not remitted to creditors?
Chinamasa says civil servants are gobbling up 75percent of the money collected by government every month but has not accepted that there are over 70 000 ghost workers in the 230 000-strong workforce. If these were removed, it would lessen the government’s burden, surely.
Biti warned the Zanu PF government several weeks ago that it had started on the wrong foot by borrowing money to pay its servants. Where will government get the money to pay back whichever bank lent them the money?
The chickens have come home to roost for Mugabe’s administration.