14 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Civil Servants Receive Bonus

Civil servants started receiving their bonuses yesterday with the rest expected to get their 13th cheque next month.

There were doubts on the payment of the bonuses after Finance Minister Tendai Biti in September said payment was being threatened by the "poor revenue performance and the depressed economic environment".

Members of the Zimbabwe National Army started withdrawing their bonuses yesterday and the rest of the civil service, including those in the education sector and other uniformed forces are expected to get theirs next week or next month.

The staggering in the payment of bonuses, according to the Ministry of Finance officials, was due to a lack of funds to pay all the civil servants at the same time.

Junior members of the uniformed forces who earn an average US$400, reportedly had over US$800 deposited in their accounts for this month.

Civil servants' Apex Council chairperson Mr David Dzatsunga yesterday confirmed the development.

However, he said civil servants' attention was on the 2013 national budget where they were expecting a salary increment in line with the poverty datum line.

Minister Biti is expected to present the budget tomorrow.

"I can confirm that soldiers have started getting the bonuses, but our attention is on the national budget," he said.

"We are expecting the budget to address our demands considering that we never got an increment this year."

Minister Biti said two weeks ago that civil servants would get an "inflation related" increment in January next year.

The lowest-paid Government employee is getting US$296, while the poverty datum line stands at over US$600.

Zimbabwe Teachers' Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said they were now focusing on a salary increment.

"It's confirmed that the bonuses are being paid and others are expecting them between next week and next month," he said.

"We now want a salary that does not only take inflation into account but that also transforms salaries into a higher level scale. I cannot disclose our actual demands because that will pre-empt our position."

Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo said there was nothing to celebrate about the bonus.

"We cannot celebrate bonuses because they are not negotiable," he said. "We wait to see what Biti has for the workers because in consultations, he has never taken us as an important stakeholder.

"He has promised us an increment and we wait to see if it is going to change anything."

A Ministry of Finance official said there was a need for Government to manage flow and payment of bonuses.

"All Government programmes have to move on and for this to be achievable, we cannot make a once-off payment on bonuses," said the official.

Public Service Minister Lucia Matibenga declined to comment.

"I have no comment on that," she said before hanging up the phone. Last year, the Government staggered bonus payments for civil servants with those in the education sector getting the 13th cheque in December, while other workers got theirs in November.

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