Comment by David Coltart re Mugabe’s reversal of Chinamasa’s bonus policy

via Comment by David Coltart re Mugabe’s reversal of Chinamasa’s bonus policy – David Coltart April 20, 2015

Poor old Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, has been forced to eat humble pie by President Mugabe this weekend. Having announced that the civil service annual bonus would not be paid in 2015 and 2016 as part of government’s austerity measures, Chinamasa was put down very publicly by Mugabe, who told the Nation that Cabinet had not approved the decision and the bonus would be paid.

Aside from wondering why Chinamasa would ever have announced such a major policy decision without Cabinet authority, this illustrates again the very poor standard of ZANU PF governance. If Chinamasa acted without authority on such a major issue he acted grossly irresponsibly. As we have seen his announcement was met with alarm and despondency within the civil service – this was no small issue. In most governments a Minister would lose his job for behaving in this manner, but one can guarantee Chinamasa will keep his.

But to go back to my original point, it seems implausible that Chinamasa acted arbitrarily – he is an intelligent man and in my experience always followed Cabinet protocol. In other words he is not a person who has a track record of of acting unilaterally. Furthermore Chinamasa’s decision was announced several days ago and economists were rolled out by the government controlled press to compliment him for the decision – saying that whilst a tough call it was the right one. It is hard to imagine that the tightly controlled ZANU PF propaganda machine would have acted in this way if there wasn’t a broad consensus that this policy be implemented.

One is left with the inescapable conclusion that Chinamasa is just the fall guy. Whatever the case, President’s Mugabe’s directive (the Herald’s words not mine) leaves Chinamasa between a rock and a very hard place. In his statement today Chinamasa speaks about a ballooning debt within the civil service (eg Premier Service Medical Aid contributions not being paid) and government’s failure to meet debt repayment undertakings, which he was hoping to address by not paying the bonus. He now has to source that money from elsewhere – but where is the question?

There is a harsh economic reality which Chinamasa understands, but which others within ZANU PF clearly do not. Sadly this is the not the first time this has happened – in fact this is typical of the way ZANU PF has run Zimbabwe for 35 years. It has run Zimbabwe like a tuck shop; money has been taken out the till and never banked; sound decisions have been reversed for short term expediency; there has been a failure to implement long term economic plans.

That is why the IMF and World Bank suspended support for the ZANU PF government in the 1990s – long before “sanctions” were ever imposed. Its failure then to comply with agreed policies exasperated the international financial community. President Mugabe’s announcement this weekend, whilst Chinamasa was in Washington doing his best to woo the same community, will elicit a profound sense of deja vu in the IMF and World Bank. I have absolutely no doubt that Chinamasa timed his statement on bonuses to coincide with his visit – to show the IMF that the Zimbabwe government is serious about tackling government spending and debt. President Mugabe’s statement will have driven a coach and horses through Chinamasa’s attempt to get further international support for the government. Chinamasa will return from the IMF’s spring meeting this past weekend in Washington not only with egg on his face, but with empty pockets too.


  • comment-avatar

    In all my 56 years of being employed I learnt that a bonus was a privelage and not a right, and also dependent on my and the companies performance. When did this change ?

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 7 years ago

    Mike with ZanuPF it has always being money for doing nothing. Thus the plunder.
    The public services are so politicised and pro Zanu that ZanuPF is afraid it may lose its voting numbers from this group.
    Do the math? Then work out the voters outside this group dependent on the public workers. Interesting.