Govt must clear the air on bonuses

HARARE - Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira’s admission that Zimbabwe currently has no money to pay its employees’ bonuses shows that government is not being practical in handling the issue.

In April, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that government had no capacity to pay its employees their traditional 13th cheque, only for his boss President Robert Mugabe to reverse the decision.

True, Mugabe’s concern that Chinamasa had neither consulted him nor his deputies over the issue makes a lot of sense. However, the presence or absence of consultations is one thing and the availability of the money is quite another.

We believe civil servants deserve their bonuses, but government has to enable them to plan on how to use the payouts. This is only possible if they know when the payments are coming.

When a government minister and his principal differ on crucial policy issues like this one, we begin to shudder that perhaps this could be an ugly sign of serious and costly inconsistencies that have been characteristic of government in recent years.

Announcing when the bonuses would be made available would have helped prepare employees psychologically. In any case, this is the only sensible way to operate and we find it grossly unfair that government is failing to provide a time frame as to when they will reward their employees who have shown a lot of resilience in putting up with low salaries and poor working conditions for some time.

We hope the president’s announcement was not meant to score a cheap political goal. The critical question remains: Is the money available? Chinamasa, as Treasury chief, knows exactly how much revenue government is getting and he knows how much of that amount goes towards funding critical operations of government. It is clear knowledge that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has been collecting well below target in recent times.

We hope government will not resort to borrowing to finance these payouts and later on place the burden on the taxpayer through additional or increased taxes.

We have always thought Chinamasa was perhaps among the most pragmatic of ministers to have been given the Finance portfolio.

His attempts at re-engaging international lending institutions appeared well-meaning but he needs optimum support from his Cabinet colleagues so that government expenditure does not continue ballooning.

There is need for government to clear the air and announce time frames as to when the bonuses are going to be paid.

Obviously, some civil servants had gone on to include bonus payments on their budgets as the president had promised these would be paid and it sounds grossly unfair for them to go back to the drawing board.

Comments (2)

This is where we see that the problem lies with us. We are prepared to believe anything even if it defies logic. The fundamentals are upside down and a Minister is trying for once to be truthful and we continue to demand an actual date. No one knows the date as the money is not there. We need to accept that as the plain truth. We are used to entertaining lies after lies. Ladies and gentlemen, for once, let us accept that we are waiting for the rains. The combi driver is running amok with the economy. It is our collective choice, supposedly that the combi driver was democratically elected.

Zvichapera - 16 December 2015

Thank you Daily news.Thank you very much.These are some of the questions in our minds but apparently noone in the government has the answers. This morning i was puzzled when three tabloids had different headlines to the bonus issue but of all Herald was just hallucinating as usual. Thank you for telling like it is and for understanding our plight. We are really troubled by this administration and you wonder where they get votes come election time.

Tonge - 17 December 2015

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