via Bonus: Revolt wary govt pays army – NewZimbabwe 03/02/2016
THE cash-strapped government will pay members of the defence forces their bonus this month and the rest of the civil service later, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said Wednesday.
The bonuses were due in November last year, but the administration could not raise the cash and even delayed December salaries for state workers to this January.
“For the benefit of the public and other relevant stakeholders, I wish to advise that Government remains committed to honouring its 2015 bonus obligations to its employees,” the minister told state media.
“As you are already aware, Government is currently experiencing cash flow constraints, which makes it untenable to effect a bullet payment.”
Chinamasa’s decision to privilege the army will not surprise many, come as it does at a time the ruling Zanu PF is rocked by divisions which, according to President Robert Mugabe, have also spread to the security services.
An economic slump that has lasted more than a decade has adversely impacted government revenues, resulting in treasury struggling to pay salaries.
The government is notoriously wary of upsetting the security services after frustrated soldiers rioted at the height of cash shortages back in 2008.
The media has since been sternly warned against reporting on the military.
Two journalists from a privately owned daily recently arrested for reporting that the spy CIO agency was paid its bonus last year as the government panicked over the possible impact of the claim on morale in the other unpaid sections of the security establishment.
Media threats on military
Reflecting the anxiety of the administration on the issue, presidential spokesman George Charamba recently declared: “We will use other instruments to make sure you stop reporting on military issues.
“I have defended journalists as my colleagues several times, but be warned this time we will descend on you.
“We will be looking for your military sources while you are locked up at Chikurubi (Maximum Security Prison in Harare).”
Meanwhile, Chinamasa said after the army, police, the prison services and the health sector would be paid next in March.
Teachers, who make up the bulk of the civil services will get their bonuses in April and the rest of the establishment in May.
“For the benefit of the public and other relevant stakeholders, I wish to advise that Government remains committed to honouring its 2015 bonus obligations to its employees,” said the minister.
“As you are already aware, Government is currently experiencing cash flow constraints, which makes it untenable to effect a bullet payment.
“To allow room to mobilise the required resources, Government will be staggering the payment of bonuses for public servants beginning this month and until May 2016.”
Chinamasa last year tried to suspend the bonus payments until 2017, citing the lack of funds only to be publicly rebuked by President Robert Mugabe who overturned the decision.
Mugabe told the minister that he must just find the money.
The treasury chief also backtracked on plans to retrench part of the 500,000-strong civil service after being threatened by party and cabinet colleagues.