HARARE - Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government needs to do all in its powers to ensure that it pays civil servants on dates announced on Wednesday by acting Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Saviour Kasukuwere.
Failure to pay workers as promised will only heighten the uncertainty and low morale that is currently plaguing the civil service.
A functional government worth the name cannot afford the unenviable habit of paying its workers anyhow, and worse still, of meeting its salary obligations well into the other month.
Even if the government manages to pay civil servants as scheduled this month, the question is: Will they be able guarantee pay dates going forward?
Despite a candid admission by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last year that the government had no capacity to pay bonuses, President Robert Mugabe insisted that the 13th cheque had to be paid.
But a month into the New Year, the bonus, normally paid in November, still hasn’t found its way into civil servants’ pockets. Much to the frustration of workers, government continues to procrastinate announcing the dates.
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that the current uncertainty rocking the civil service is undermining morale and, in turn, the implementation of government programmes.
It is important to remind the government — by far the biggest employer on the land — that even the “magical” ZimAsset programme it claims it is implementing with gusto, will go nowhere if it is being spearheaded by a demoralised civil service unsure of when they will be paid next.
The government’s failure to pay its workers is symptomatic of problems afflicting the wider economy.
Despite the rather strange and boastful assertion by Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo claiming that the ruling party was happy with the way it was superintending the country, the truth of the matter is that the economy is regressing.
It is therefore not surprising that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority failed to meet its target in the last quarter and chances are it will do so again this quarter.
Given the foregoing, government needs to frankly admit that it is falling short in a big way.
We hope the recently announced revised indegenisation framework which has the blessing of both the Indegenisation and Finance ministries reflects a new unity of purpose in government which has been sadly missing all along.
This is important because no economy and country run by a government at war with itself can expect to develop.
The time has come for government to focus on the economy and not on the incessant factional wars ravaging the ruling party.