Chinamasa’s job on the line

via Chinamasa’s job on the line | The Financial Gazette – Zimbabwe News by Clemence Manyukwe 27 Feb 2014

THE kitchen could be getting too hot for Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa who, despite the declining revenue trickling into government’s coffers, must urgently look for cash to fund civil servants’ salary increases while at the same time keeping the administration’s programmes running or risk falling out with President Robert Mugabe, who is increasingly getting impatient with him, the Financial Gazette can report.

While the former justice minister distinguished himself as an astute mind in the legal field, he has had a torrid time in juggling the government’s books as the gap between its income and expenditure continues to widen. Government is currently failing to take care of its daily needs because of a worsening liquidity crunch spawned by the collapse of industry and commerce against an alarming growth in imports.

While Chinamasa has had to defer capital projects to lessen pressures on the fiscus, he has become the fall guy as colleagues in President Mugabe’s bloated Cabinet attribute their poor performance to under-funding. A few weeks ago, he had to re-adjust the National Budget to clear its passage in Parliament after members of the Parliament Legal Committee (PLC) had threatened to throw spanners into the works.

The PLC had noted that some aspects of the budget were unconstitutional as it had failed to provide independent budgets for constitutional commissions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. To conserve the little resources reaching government purse, Chinamasa had not provided for separate budgets for the commissions, preferring to accommodate them under their parent ministries.

As a result, the PLC had written to him threatening to issue an adverse report on the budget, which could have blocked its passage in the National Assembly, thereby crippling government’s operations. In the end, Chinamasa had to eat a humble pie. Chinamasa’s biggest challenge relates to the funding of civil servants’ salary increases awarded last month.

He has since deferred their payment to April, hoping by then revenue inflows would have improved. Desperate to avoid a reputational risk after pledging to increase public servants salaries ahead of the elections, President Mugabe is exerting pressure on Chinamasa to find innovative ways of funding the wage bill or get out of the kitchen should he find it to be too hot for him.

President Mugabe admitted recently to pressurising the Finance and Economic Development Minister to hike salaries for civil servants even though Treasury had not made such budgetary provision. In the run up to last year’s polls which ZANU-PF won, the incumbent promised civil servants a salary hike by December 2013 pegged against the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), but his pledge has remained unfulfilled due to the precarious nature of the government’s finances.
The cash squeeze has resulted in Treasury dragging its feet on salary hikes, amid growing disillusionment among State employees who have been agitating for better pay since the inclusive government era.

President Mugabe recently gave Chinamasa the option of resigning if he was not up to the task.  The ZANU-PF leader revealed that initially Chinamasa had said it was not possible to raise civil servants salaries, but had offered to replace him if he was not able to come up with the required salary formula. The minister opted to keep his job.

“And so we must have normal salaries. Yes, we cannot have them from day one, but we must have them on paper for a start and work towards their being fulfilled in practice.  And that Chinamasa is doing,” said President Mugabe in an interview with the State broadcaster to mark his 90th birthday. “At first he said we could not do it and I said well if you can’t do it tell me I will get someone to do it.”

“That is why he announced that salaries will be going to be above the poverty datum line.” He said if civil servants were to demonstrate against poor pay, such protests would not be interfered with as their grievances are genuine. Although government reached a salary deal with its workers last month, Treasury has since indicated that the new thresholds could only be effected in April, although backdated to January this year.

In his 2014 National Budget, Chinamasa did not plan for any huge payouts, but pledged to come up with a roadmap that would result in the reduction of the wage Bill.
The minister had argued that the government wage bill was consuming an unsustainable 75 percent of revenue and this needed to be reduced to 30 percent by 2018.
But pressure brought to bear on him by President Mugabe is already putting the budget under stress, amid indications several projects could suffer as resources are diverted towards salaries.

Government has since agreed on a deal that should see the lowest-paid civil servant in Grade B1 getting US$375, up from US$297. The increments, when effected, will see the civil service wage bill for the nearly 230 000 workers increasing by US$13 million to US$155 million per month.
Marginal public sector salary increases in 2011 and 2012, crowded out spending in key areas resulting in fiscal stress, including the accumulation of domestic payments arrears.

With his US$4,2 billion budget for 2014 having no provision for salary increases, it would be an uphill struggle to fund the increments. Analyst reason that Chinamasa is walking a tight-rope and should count himself lucky if he survives the boot. Revenues from diamonds have not been forthcoming to lessen the minister’s troubles and the absence of budgetary support does not make the job any easier.

Civil servants are already canvassing views on the course of action to take should government fail to deliver on its promises.
Unions are not ruling out the possibility of embarking on a crippling strike to get their dues, with the militant Progress Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) spitting fire over the issue.

Vusumuzi Mahlangu, PTUZ’s provincial co-ordinator for Bulawayo, said they doubted government’s ability to make good on its promises in view of the precarious state of its finances. “Where will the government get the money since they are saying they are broke; it’s just a miracle that will not happen. We as the PTUZ have no option but to go on strike – that’s the only option that we have,” said Mahlangu.

Economic commentators are also questioning the sustainability of the salary increases in the long-term. Prosper Chitambara, an economist, said while government could use proceeds from the sale of diamonds at Antwerp in Belgium to quieten the civil servants, it cannot keep on relying on stop-gap measures to placate its restive employees.

“Looking at the (economic) indicators; they are really not good. There is need for structural reforms to sustain this reform or else it will end up being a once off thing,” Chitambara said. Bongani Ngwenya, an economist and Dean of faculty of Business from Solusi University, said there hasn’t been any improvement in the state of the economy to warrant a salary review for the government workers in line with the PDL.



  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Chinamasa was never an astute anything. As attorney general he was a political man pursuing political cases. He is one of the main instruments that has turned our courts into kangaroo courts where justice cannot be found.

    The man is a crude sledge hammer of an opportunist. He will find economics less amenable to lies, intimidation and deception than the law was.

    Mr Chinamasa is really a Chinotimba with a bit more education and is as liable to fatuous stupidity.

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    woosafoolinawho 8 years ago

    Simple remedy. He and his cronies contribute 10% of thier off shore bank balances. That alone should be able to pay the civil servants for the next few years..

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    die groot wyt aap 8 years ago

    “…in my wrath I will punish you 7 times. You will eat the flesh of your flesh, that of your sons and daughters. I will cast down your temples and destroy your idols…”

    It seems like Leviticus was predicting the future for ZANU and Bob. All that is left to scavenge or steal, are a few poor elephants and rhinos to be poached. Then nothing else, the hyenas are already circling.

    slaap lekker comrades, slaap lekker

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    ‘President Mugabe recently gave Chinamasa the option of resigning if he was not up to the task.’

    Just wondering which other tool in his house of soot Bob would have chosen to do this job if Chinamasa had resigned. Sometimes Bob just gushes verbal diarrhoea.

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    Zvakwana 8 years ago

    It all started when the geriatric awarded unbudgeted salaries to war veterans in 1997.

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    senzachena 8 years ago

    If I was Chinamasa I would have ducked out and gone to live on one of my stolen farms. He has an impossible job as the whole thing is going to implode fairly shortly and there will be no money to pay the armed force/Police etc. Then lets sit back and watch the fun.

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    I can only hope mugabe and his goons live long enough to face the consequences of their actions when the inevitable change does come. No forgiveness !!! only justice.

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    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    I don’t think he will fire him. There is no other fool willing to take that post. Its not as powerful as it used to be ,because there is no money in the coffers.
    The cake is getting smaller and smaller.

  • comment-avatar 8 years ago

    Chinamasser! Chinamasser! Chinamasa you have to quit, unless….

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    Rocks tone 8 years ago

    Hiya it will be a dog eat dog situation, ngavatonge tione , this is now GOD ‘s case no appeal chinamasa ngazvuve sanzo nemashizha aro!!

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    Mlimo 8 years ago

    Just a matter of time what zanupf don’t realise the fall from grace accelerates with time haha note the pun I bet Gono has fallen from graces bed many a time

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    gorongoza 8 years ago

    Maybe Mangoma will take the post. or Biti, seeing they are now too cozy with ZAUF!

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    Patriotic 8 years ago

    Pachivanhu tinoti “Hamusati matanga, mati madii – Mwari harisi benzi uye ndewe vanhu vose” meaning “You have not yet started, you are not done yet – God is not fool and is for everyone”

  • comment-avatar
    wasu wemanyika 8 years ago

    Hayasi .Regai zvakadaro . Ngavaende kunaMakandiwa avape mari

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    Jono Austin 8 years ago

    This gang of thieves have looted the country’s resources and there is nothing left to raid. Can you imagine if gangsters could control the money printing presses of a country and print money for themselves? This is precisely what happened in Zimkwacha days when we were told rampant inflation was because of ‘sanctions’. They couldn’t tax enough to fill the deficit so they printed! But there is no Zimkwacha anymore so they have a BIG hole they cannot fill. Let the fun and games begin. By the way why is there not rampant inflation but ‘sanctions’ still exist? This murderous gang of thieves and liars will be held to account one day when finally the populous come to the inescapable realisation that they have been duped massively for years!

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    die groot wyt aap 8 years ago

    no one “resigns” from his post in ZANU, unless he wants to live forever in the crocodile’s belly. This comrade Patrick already knows.

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    jobolinko 8 years ago

    After rigging they thought it was an easy ride to run government now it has proved otherwise, Day and night all they can think of is destroying mdc ,soon and very soon we will be halfway to 2018 elections and that will press another panic button ,We have proved and have always said it Zanu cant do anything better they have not done before

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    adam jones 8 years ago

    They are busy stealing diamond money

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    Msizeni silwelani 8 years ago

    Honestly the civil servant’s salary increment promise was made by a politician at a political rally. It was not the govt through administration procedures hence China….. should have guts to tell anyone who dare ask him that the govt does not have the money to execute political pronouncements.

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    Just saying 8 years ago

    Cut back on all the numbers in government starting with the 230,000 so-called ‘workers’ considering that government is hardly functioning. Then radically reduce the bloated parliament & the fat cats sitting in the senate. Do likewise with the ministers & deputies who spend more time doing their own thing than anything else. Then again get rid of the numerous ridiculously overpaid hanger-ons who masquerade as C.E.O.s at all the parastatals and get ZIMRA to do their job. And above all stop stealing and just maybe a competent Finance Minister could start to do a decent job. Sorry guys just conveying what I dreamt about last night!!!!!

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    Ruramai 8 years ago

    Mugabe allocated his office over $200 million – more than the amount allocated to five key ministries. Now he tells Chinamasa to find the money! The nonagenarian has the easiest job on the planet. His greed no limits. Chinamasa is clearly quite foolish to want to keep this job. Mugabe should stop the haemorrhaging of diamond income instead of asking Finance ministers to do the impossible.

    Stop corruption you idiot and money will start flowing into state coffers.

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    Allen 8 years ago

    A circus with too many clowns. It would be funny but Zimbabwe is a tragedy unfolding,

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    Tongoona 8 years ago

    Patrick there is nothing you can do. Zvakona nganga muprapwi achida. Refuse to be used as a shield against general ZANU PF incompetence. Ko ungazvigone here mwana wamai. Iyi nyaya tototi yakafanana nekuti bondo rakatadzwa nebere harina anorigona. Iyi ndiyo ndamba manje, haiwhinhike. Politics dzashaya basa.

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    James Kwavanhu 8 years ago

    Chickens coming back to roost

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    Zimbo 8 years ago

    This Mugabe chap is quite the comedian,a natural.I would pay good money to see him on stage.But unfortunately,this is no act.Its real.

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    With the judiciary it was easy to spin an innocent person to be an accused. In Finance reality proves you wrong no matter how u ignore facts. THEY NEED BALANCING not opinions of party FATHERS behind a plot.

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    Godonga 8 years ago

    Shona people created Mugabe wen they snubbed a pragmatic and experienced statesman in Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo by chosing to vote for a novice in what was clearly a Tribal Scandal.

    They created their Frankensten Monster, only them can put it down. Muchamama!

    Bayethe Mzilikazi