Govt mum on bonuses

HARARE - Government is evasive on whether it will pay bonuses for its 300 000 employees, whose salaries take up a huge chunk of the national budget.

With the fiscus operating on a shoe string budget, payment of the thirteenth cheque has been somewhat a challenge for more than a decade now.

On Thursday, Public Service minister Sekai Nzenza told members of the Senate that government was assessing whether it has the capacity to pay the bonus.

“At this stage, we are reviewing our pension funds as well as reviewing the wage bill which also includes the bonuses,” she said, while responding to questions from senators during the question and answer session in the Upper House.

Nzenza said consultations on the matter were ongoing but was quick to point out that it won’t be an easy decision given the prevailing harsh economic conditions and the unsustainably high civil service wage bill.

Government expenditure on wages is around 86 percent.

“Given the current economic turmoil, we would also take that into consideration and if you can bear with me for a while, we will be able to get back to you with the correct information,” Nzenza said.

Nzenza, who was recently appointed to the Public Service portfolio by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, was also noncommittal on whether civil servants bonuses will continue to be designated in Unite States dollars or they would be changed to bond or Real Time Gross Settlement accounts.

She refused to answer the question, insisting she will only come up with the proper government position on the issue after consulting other stakeholders, including the ministry of Finance.

“Again, I am not able to answer your question at this stage. That question can only be answered in consultation with the minister of Finance and Economic Development and all the other ministers involved,” the Public Service minister said.

The payment of bonuses has turned into a thorn in the government’s flesh.

In 2015, then Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that government had suspended civil servants’ performance bonuses including the 13th cheque for 2016 as part of efforts to tame the ballooning wage bill and create fiscal space.

Chinamasa revealed at the time that government was still to complete payment of 2014 bonuses, while at the same time struggling to raise the $260 million monthly salary bill.

But Chinamasa’s decision to forgo bonuses was overturned by then president Robert Mugabe, resulting in government workers being paid the yearly reward on a staggered basis.

Mnangagwa’s administration managed to pay civil servants bonuses for 2017 this year on a staggered basis from March to June.

It has, however, pledged to cut public sector jobs to help stem ballooning expenditure.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube recently said job cuts were among austerity measures needed to revive the moribund economy as it reels under a debt of $16, 9 billion.

“We are going to do that (job cuts),” Ncube told journalists at a news conference while presenting his two-year fiscal policy plan titled “transitional stabilisation programme.”

“Trying to restructure your workforce is never easy. It’s painful, it’s emotional and can be a traumatic process but still necessary,” he said.

Ncube said the government, which has a workforce of more than 300 000, will target jobs held by workers due for retirement and “those who are not correctly positioned in their positions.”

Comments (3)

This will really show that the Government is serious about belt-tightening. If those bonuses are paid, then this turnaround, belt-tightening is all talk. It must even extend to ministers and mps... No more cars please. This is the signal people need that we are in this together. Very disappointed that parliament is actually demanding cars.

The Beautiful ones are not yet born - 13 October 2018

I wish if Mnangagwa would learn from people like Mugufuli... But my fear is our President may be so beholden to the pleasures of life such that the principles of a man like Mugufuli wont make sense to him.

The Beautiful ones are not yet born - 13 October 2018

The workforce will be reduced to 120000 or less , then the chop will get a good bye instead.

Murudidi - 13 October 2018

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