HARARE – Civil servants are fretting over government’s delay in paying them their 2017 bonuses, two months into 2018.
Civil servants’ unions who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said most government workers had given up hope of getting paid their 2017 bonuses, accusing the re-elected Cecilia Alexander-led Apex Council of being toothless.
The government had said the 2017 bonuses would be staggered this year, starting with the army, doctors, and nurses being paid first, then the police and lastly teachers.
But two months into 2018, the government has failed to pay civil servants their bonuses reportedly due to a lack of funds.
“We suspect that government will pay us bonuses when they see fit, probably towards elections to use that as a campaign tool because they know that with the current leadership at the Apex Council, they will not be under any pressure,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said.
Former Apex Council deputy president Ladistous Zunde also accused Alexander of being too soft with the government during negotiations.
“During negotiations with the government before they threw me out clandestinely, our colleagues were more of a hindrance than the help as they took sides with government and even ganged up against me saying I was undermining the chairperson’s authority by being too vocal,” Zunde said.
“They wanted me to use diplomacy but I insisted that diplomacy does not work in trade unionism because negotiations without arms are like music without instruments.
“Now that they are running the show on their own, I doubt if they will be brave enough to confront government over bonuses.”
While Alexander was not immediately available for comment, George Mushipe, the Apex Council secretary, denied that the union had been teeth-clipped.
“I do not think that position is correct because we have been making frantic efforts to engage government on the issue of bonus but sadly they have not been able to give us exact dates apart from the commitment to pay,” Mushipe said.
“We have, for your own information, engaged the highest office in the land where we have been referred to the Labour minister.
“We are also going to hold a meeting of the Apex Council to deliberate on issues to do with dates of payment so that we move away from mere promises to tangible action. That can only come from an organisation that is not captured by anyone,” he said.
This comes as there is confusion in government over whether civil servants are still under the Labour ministry or President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office.
Labour minister Petronella Kagonye told the Daily News last week she had been informed that civil servants now fall directly under Mnangagwa’s office.
“Until recently, I thought that civil servants were under my purview until I was corrected that in fact, they are under the president’s office,” Kagonye said after a meeting with the country’s labour unions last month.
The civil service used to be under the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, which has since been reconfigured to the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
Government pronounced on Monday that it will announce the dates shortly. Secretary for Finance and Economic Planning ministry Willard Manungo said: “Minister (Patrick) Chinamasa will shortly be communicating the payment dates.
“We’re yet to set the date for the announcement, but it will be soon. The payment of bonuses will be staggered as we have said before.”
Chinamasa last year assured civil servants that they would be paid their 2017 bonuses, and claimed he had set aside $176 million for their 13th cheque.