Tough times ahead for civil servants

HARARE - Civil servants should brace themselves for challenging times ahead as government continues to shift pay dates, piling more misery on the already hard-pressed government workers.

Civil servants, who include nurses and ex-government workers, will be paid late over the next six months and will only receive their December salaries way after Christmas this year, according to a pay schedule that the Civil Service Commission released on Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe’s government has been shifting the pay dates for its workers as sources of revenue dwindle in the face of a deepening economic crisis.

Representatives of workers and other stakeholders told the Daily News yesterday that government’s continued dithering on pay dates is not only illegal but also a dangerous precedent in a country hit by unprecedented company closures and sky rocketing unemployment rates.

David Coltart, a former Education minister, warned that delays in paying salaries could have a knock-on effect on morale in the already restive sector.

“This shifting of pay dates raises the question, will government be able to pay salaries at all?” Coltart asked.

“There are huge concerns whether government will be able to pay bonuses this year. The shifting of dates are just announcements. We know from what minister Patrick Chinamasa (Finance) and also Zimra have said about the strain salaries are putting on revenue collection, the ability to pay is put under strain and they have changed the dates to give themselves breathing space.”

The country, still recovering from a decade-long economic recession, currently relies on tax collections to fund its national budget, with the public service wage bill gobbling 73 percent of all government exdpenditure, leaving just 11 percent for capital investment and 16 percent for non-wage recurrent expenditure.

In April, Zimra warned of a “serious shrinkage of revenue” that could see government miss its tax income targets.
Efforts to get comment from Chinamasa  were fruitless yesterday.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) said its membership of about 12 000 was the worst affected by the delays in payment, which apparently favour soldiers.

“This is only affecting nurses; they should alternate between all civil servants and not only one sector,” Chipfurutse Mugove, Zina’s organising secretary said.

“The good thing though is that we still hope that the salaries will come but we must all be treated equally.”

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s largest worker representative body, said the continued shifting of pay dates inconveniences workers.

“We are very clear on pay dates, there is an agreed pay date and government is not honouring that,” said Gideon Shoko, deputy secretary general of ZCTU.

“It should be noted that everyone wants to plan and under these circumstances it is very difficult to do so. To make matters worse, government is effecting the changes alone. It is now clear that the promises that the government made were all false. They promised poverty datum line-aligned salaries but they are not keeping the promises. These changes are wrong and devilish and should be condemned.”

In the run-up to last year general elections, Mugabe promised to adjust civil servants salaries to be in sync with the PDL but the cash strapped government only effected a marginal rise that fall far short of its workers expectations.

In April, government raised salaries of civil servants by $54, with the lowest paid worker now earning $375 a month. The PDL is pegged at $511.

The opposition National Constitution Assembly (NCA) yesterday described the government’s move as illegal.

“NCA party is concerned with the continuous violation of workers’ rights by Zanu PF government,” said Madock

Chivasa, spokesperson NCA. “It seems as if there is no longer a fixed date or day for civil servants to get their salaries from government.

“The delays and change of pay days every month is a clear violation of workers’ rights and against the Labour Act that compels employers to pay salaries on time. As a result of yesterday’s (Wednesday) pronouncement by the Civil Service Commission, NCA party is now taking Zanu PF government to court to ensure that workers’ rights are protected and respected. The NCA will seek to get a court order compelling the Civil Service Commission to fix a single day to pay civil servants their salaries every month. The sought court order can then be used for legal action once government fail to pay civil servants on the set day.”

Comments (9)

Sooner or later the gvt will fail to pay its workers. This gvt is in serious financial problems,yet they stubbornly refuse to engage other stake holders for a meaningful dialogue. We are faced with a national economic war.

JAMBANJA - 13 June 2014

Sooner or later the gvt will fail to pay its workers. This gvt is in serious financial problems,yet they stubbornly refuse to engage other stake holders for a meaningful dialogue. We are faced with a national economic war.

JAMBANJA - 13 June 2014

You can rig the elecions not economy .Idiots can never and will never a country for 34 yrs idiots had been pretending to run this country bu bcoz they are fools they have failed and only idiofs can not see that .

Diibulaanyika - 13 June 2014

Its high time the ruling party starts recruiting political strategists on the expense of economic strategists.

Andrew Kunodziya - 13 June 2014

Shame on zanu pf govmnt.Swallow your pride idiots,call MDC T for a dialogue here.You dont have any means to pay the already suffering civil servants.You lied that you will create 1 million jobs,where are they now?Bastards.

josefa chinotimba - 14 June 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 14 June 2014

kkkkkkkkkkkkkChinamasa is Chinamasa is too old for this Ministry, Zanu pf go plz go

mhukahuru - 14 June 2014

Biti was lambasted and ridiculed for failing to increase civil servants salaries. War Vets stormed his offices & threatened him through out his tenure. His Excellence once directed the then Hon Fin Min to find money & award goverment workers an inrcrease. Hon Biti simple unacceptable answer was there was no money. The talk was "Biti is refusing with the money". Who is refusing with the money today now that Biti is battling for control of the MDC-T instead of having the last laugh?

UnityGuys - 14 June 2014

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