BY MOSES MATENGA
CIVIL servants yesterday said government’s decision to pay their bonuses in United States dollars was a vote of no confidence in the local currency which continues to lose value against major currencies.
Yesterday, sections of the public service started receiving their US dollar-denominated 13th cheques although the amount has been capped at US$700.
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Union secretary-general David Dzatsunga told NewsDay that while the move was appreciated, civil servants had been vindicated for demanding payment of their salaries in the stable US dollar.
“We really appreciate the good sense that caused the government to come up with this measure given the chaos in the monetary system,” Dzatsunga said.
“This was also an admission of the ‘worthless’ local currency paid as salaries to civil servants. Also in our view it is tacit admission on the part of government that the local currency is no longer really the best foot forward in terms of salaries. We hope that it is a dry run for the introduction of the US dollar salaries and that the government will now accede to our standing demand to pay salaries in US dollar,” he added.
The civil servants have been fighting for a minimum of US$520 per month as per October 2018 salary levels. In 2020, teachers and nurses spent the better part of the year on strike after they declared incapacitation.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) implored the government to ensure that salaries for civil servants were commensurate with the current cost of living.
“The move by the government to pay bonuses for civil servants in US dollars vindicates claims that authorities have largely been indifferent to the plight of government workers whose salaries (paid in local currency) have often been eroded by high inflationary levels yet government has not been adjusting the salaries to suit the cost of living,” CiZC spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said.
“The latest move to pay bonuses for civil servants in US dollars reveals the government’s lack of confidence in the local currency which continues to fall against major currencies and consequently fails to cushion government workers.
“As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we view the move by the government as nothing but a campaign gimmick ahead of the 2023 polls. We reiterate our call for civil servants to continue fighting for a living wage in light of the inflationary environment in Zimbabwe.”
He urged government to negotiate with civil servants in good faith rather than employing gimmicks aimed at pacifying them like paying once-off bonuses in US dollars.