via Ministers human, make mistakes: Moyo – NewZimbabwe 20 April 2015
INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo has said Cabinet ministers are only human and will make mistakes as he defended beleaguered finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Moyo attended a recent press conference where Chinamasa announced that he was suspending bonuses for civil servants until 2017 because the cash-strapped government could not afford the payments.
The civil service wage bill already accounts for more than 80 percent of government revenues and the Zanu PF administration has been under pressure to cull its 500,000 strong work-force.
Explaining his decision Chinamasa said “We are paying people to sit in their offices (but) we will not pay because there is no capacity to do so.”
But President Robert Mugabe reversed the decision at the weekend, and launched a scathing public attack on the minister.
The Zanu PF leader said he was disgusted by the decision, adding Chinamasa had not consulted the presidency and Cabinet over the issue.
Zanu PF MP David Chapfika, who chairs parliament’s finance and economic development committee, also attacked Chinamasa.
“What l know in terms of the Zimbabwe labour laws is that when you award a salary, there has to be either a statutory instrument to freeze that,” he told NewZimbabwe.com
“You don’t freeze it through a press statement. You either enact a law that makes compulsory for everybody else again not to pay bonuses for a period of time.”
He added: “From a moral point of view, the minister may have been correct but what the President was saying is that due process which must be followed.
“In fact, if the process was done through cabinet, maybe the minister could have even benefitted from other views and … he could have been informed of other alternative sources of revenue.”
The main opposition MDC-T party has challenged Mugabe to dismiss the finance minister who was away in Washington when Mugabe embarrassed him.
We are human after all
But Moyo, a close ally of Chinamasa, said the treasury chief made a mistake adding, “The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who do nothing or who have nothing to do”.
“It is common cause that as Cabinet Ministers we are agents of our principal, the President, who is not only Head of the Government in which we serve, but also Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” Moyo told the Herald.
“It should, therefore, go without saying that his word on Government policy is final. In the circumstances, the hullabaloo in some quarters about the President’s reinstatement of the bonuses for civil servants is unwarranted.
“Cabinet ministers are not angels. It’s a fact of life that honest mistakes will be made in the conduct of our work because mistakes are human. The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who do nothing or who have nothing to do.”
Moyo said there was nothing out of the ordinary about Mugabe’s attack on his finance minister.
“Nobody should be surprised when or if the President as our boss corrects our mistakes because that’s his constitutional responsibility since the buck stops with him,” he said.
“How or why the mistake came about in this case is irrelevant not least because Cabinet issues are confidential in terms of the law.
“The bottom line is that bonuses for civil servants have been reinstated as directed by the President and they will be paid accordingly.
“There’s nothing to debate about that. Full stop. End of the story.”
Chinamasa to raid capital budget
Mugabe did not explain where the money to pay the bonuses would come from.
Economic commentator John Robertson said Chinamasa would be tempted to raid the slim 20 per cent which is what remains of the national purse after salaries are paid to pacify his boss.
“This will come at the expense of development that should be completed or development that should happen. All these issues are of enormous importance,” said Robertson.
“If they do raid the capital fund to pay wages then it will mean development that was planned will not take place. So it is serious.”