via Civil servants pay rise this year: Mugabe by Mduduzi Mathuthu
Robert Mugabe on Monday made his first public speech since winning re-election, punctuated by a raft of populist spending priorities for his government.
War veterans, ex-detainees and the 230,000-strong public sector workers will all see an upward adjustment in their allowances and salaries this year as a fulfilment of a campaign pledge, Mugabe said at the Heroes Acre on a hill just outside Harare.
“The government is concerned about the welfare of members of the public service, and will continue to implement strategies aimed at improving their conditions of service,” Mugabe said to cheers from the gathered thousands at the commemoration of Heroes Day.
He said despite budgetary constraints, the outgoing coalition government which he led had managed to increase the basic salaries and allowances of public servants by 5,3 percent with effect from January this year, raising the public sector wage bill to US$2,6 billion – about 68 percent of the total budget expenditure.
During the same period, Mugabe said, the government had also introduced allowances for members of the public service based in rural areas.
He added: “In addition to augmenting the monetary allowances, the government is offering other initiatives such as housing, training loans and housing stands.
“We have promised to address the issue of salaries and conditions of living; we pledge to fulfil this promise this year.”
Pressing all the populist buttons, Mugabe said his government was committed to improving the pensions and general welfare of war veterans, ex-detainees and dependents of the 1980s liberation war dead who were granted hero status.
To fund these unbudgeted payments to war veterans, Mugabe said the government would rely on its “empowerment schemes” – reference to funds generated through the indigenisation programme in which mines and other foreign-owned companies are being forced to contribute to a national fund previously accessible to youths and women.
“The National Heroes Dependents Assistance Fund which was established to provide monthly allowances for both surviving spouses and minor children under the age of 18 will receive support from government’s empowerment schemes,” Mugabe said.
“We are aware that this supporting was lacking for a long time, but we will certainly do something about it now.”
He said youth and women empowerment “remains particularly central to government’s priorities as we continue to pursue socio-economic transformation”.
Mugabe also outlined some of his new government’s top agenda items which include infrastructure development in the areas of road maintenance, energy provision and telecommunications.
He said special attention would be paid to the revival of the manufacturing industries in order to boost exports while also pledging to support farmers to improve yields.