via Skepticism greets ‘political promise’ to increase civil service wage | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell November 14, 2013
Skepticism has greeted a resolution by ZANU PF’s main decision making body to raise the wages of Zimbabwe’s civil service, with a teachers union saying it will adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude before welcoming the move.
The country’s civil service workers have been demanding an increase for years, with the average monthly salary for many only about $200.
Unions representing the workers have called on the government repeatedly to raise the basic wage to match the poverty datum line, currently pegged at $540 a month.
But these demands have proved fruitless, with the government insisting it does not have the money to increase its wage bill.
The ZANU PF Politburo however last week reportedly resolved that increases would happen, without specifying when.
“We talked about the issues of civil servants. The politburo resolved that no civil servant will get paid a salary which is below the poverty datum line,” said ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo after the meeting.
“That is the position of the party that civil servants will get paid at least above the poverty datum line.”
Takavafira Zhou, the President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), told SW Radio Africa that it was too early to welcome this decision. He said that ZANU PF has proved to be “unpredictable” in the past, and the sincerity of the resolution would depend on the increase actually happening.
“It is difficult for me to say I am pleased, knowing the unpredictability of ZANU PF. Many times it has been promised that an increase would be forthcoming. But it remains to be seen if this new promises will be fulfilled,” Zhou said.
He added that the resolution might be nothing more than another “political promise” by the party, which has made numerous promises to the electorate in recent months.
“We will wait to see if this promise is fulfilled. Because it is pathetic that teachers and other civil servants are earning so little in a country with so much,” Zhou said.
Zimbabwe’s rich mineral wealth should mean that the government is able to foot the wage bill, as well as lead the development of the nation. But with major profits, like money from the diamond fields, not reaching the treasury and being used instead to line the pockets of the political elite, it is not yet clear how ZANU PF plans to keep its promise to the workers.