Outrage over civil servants bonuses

Source: Outrage over civil servants bonuses – DailyNews Live 19 January 2017

Farayi Machamire and Fungi Kwaramba

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s stone-broke government has once again
failed to raise funds to bankroll civil servants’ bonuses, raising the
spectre of widespread protests by the restive workers.

Last year, Mugabe – in a typical populist move – vowed that the public
service workers would receive their 13th cheques, despite advice from
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa that Treasury had no funds.

Yesterday, government announced staggered pay dates for the civil
servants, but failed to give a specific date when it will pay 2016’s
bonuses.

In response, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive Sifiso
Ndlovu said government must come up with a payment plan because teachers
were now anxious about their bonuses.

“Right now, we are implementing a new curriculum which is so taxing in
terms of work and planning. The last thing you should worry about are your
financial concerns,” he said.

But while Zimta is calling for engagement, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has called on all government employees and
teachers in particular to engage on a go-slow until their bonuses have
been paid.

In a statement, Artuz national president, Obert Masaraure, said the union
has to fight for bonuses, adding that the 13th cheques are part of their
national share of the cake.

Since last year, government has struggled to pay bonuses due to dwindling
national revenue collections, among a myriad of challenges.

George Mushipe, spokesperson of the Apex Council – the umbrella union for
State workers – said there are on-going consultations with government over
the bonuses matter.

He told the Daily News yesterday that civil servants had turned down
government’s proposal to “get residential stands in lieu of bonuses.”

“We are still negotiating with government over bonuses but we had refused
government’s proposal to offer us stands,” Mushipe said.

Government’s non-monetary incentive of residential stands is currently on
the rocks, with 122 000 signed-up civil servants threatening to pull out
following revelations that they will have to pay for the servicing of
their stands.

Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira told State media that presently there is
no money to pay civil servants their bonuses.

“The government does not have money at the moment. This makes it difficult
for us to announce dates. We don’t want to make promises that we will not
be able to fulfil,” she said.

“Chinamasa, I and hopefully (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John)
Mangudya will meet on January 25 to map the way forward,” Mupfumira said,
adding she would also soon meet with the Apex Council.

For some months now, government has struggled to pay salaries on time, but
teachers have been the hardest hit as they are usually the last to be
paid.

In a statement issued by the Finance ministry, the health sector would be
paid their salaries on January 20 followed by the police and the Zimbabwe
Prisons and Correctional Services on January 24.

The education sector will be paid on January 30 while the rest of the
civil service will be paid on February 3, followed by pensioners on
February 7.

The staff in grant-aided institutions will be the last to be paid on
February 10.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Ptuz) secretary-general Raymond
Majongwe raised concerns over government’s “divisive machinations”.

” . . . we are not happy with the way the issue of our salaries is being
handled by both government and the Apex Council,” he said.

“Government has shown they favour their uniformed employees.

“It’s so pathetic for an employer to show obvious bias as government is
doing,” he added.

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