Revelations that civil servants are failing to agree on the composition of their salary negotiating team make sad reading. The civil servants' actions are surprising, to say the least, considering that they have been nagging the Government for an upward review of their earnings for a long time.
We are not impressed by the fact that instead of uniting for a worthy cause, leaders of the civil service unions are tending to their egos.
But it is the general membership of the civil service which suffers in such a case.
In fact, members of all the unions must be very angry with their leadership.
Surely, the general membership cannot be part of such wrangling when all they are concerned with is the increment of their salaries.
It is apparent that the unions' leaders are not acting on the mandate of their general membership and we wonder if any consultations were made before the fights to control the negotiating team.
In the past, we have published stories of how civil servants' union leaders are living pretty well as they feed off the subscriptions paid by their members.
We might not be far off the general view of the civil servants if we say that the leaders of the unions are not so much worried about the welfare of their members.
This is influenced by our observation that fighting to control the National Joint Negotiating Council surely has nothing to do with the members' well-being.
To refresh our readers' memories, the civil servants' unions have irreconcilable differences over who to second to the NJNC.
They are supposed to second the members in line with Statutory Instrument 141 of 1997 which compels civil service unions to submit names of nine representatives to the NJNC.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche has since written to the unions asking them to send the names of the members, but nothing has materialised. We are aware that in the past, the inclusive Government was not keen to take the initiative because former Finance Minister Tendai Biti flatly refused to entertain the civil servants.
But we are shocked that the civil servants are being lethargic when Government is now pro-active.
There are 12 civil servants unions which include the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Public Service Association, College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe, Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union and Government Workers Association.
We have no doubt that civil servants will take home a salary increment in the coming months, but what we are not sure of is the percentage they will get.
The civil servants leaders are fully aware that this is where they must be seen to take a keen interest by quickly organising themselves so that negotiations for the percentage can start.
President Mugabe has already indicated that the Government workers will take a salary increment by the end of the year.
And the civil servants had started on a good note by submitting a proposal for US$600 a month for the lowest-paid worker.
This is why Government is inviting them to a round-table to finalise matters.
It is not helpful for the leaders of the unions to continue fighting among themselves when Government is extending an olive branch for negotiations.
At the same time, it will be folly for Government to unilaterally set the salary increment percentage without an agreement with workers.
We have no doubt that civil servants deserve a salary increment.
Though there may be a few bad apples in the basket, as there are in most situations, it is time that civil servants' welfare was improved.
Despite the few who tarnish the image of the civil servants, most Government workers are ambitious and hard-working.
We urge the civil servants' leaders to put their differences aside and come to the negotiating table on behalf of their members.