16 March 2014

Zimbabwe: I Also Need Pay Hike - Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has revealed he is also looking forward to a bump in his pay packet and warned his treasury chief against pulling an April Fools' prank after the minister said the hike would be effected next month.

The idea of Mugabe anxiously counting his loose change - whether Yuan, Yen, Rand or Rupee - ahead of his next pay day might strike many as improbable but the veteran leader could well be a little short in the pocket after his daughter's wedding which reportedly cost some $5 million.

The veteran leader promised to double wages for State workers as he campaigned for re-election last year, a pledge the cash-strapped government has yet to meet more than six months after the vote.

However, speaking at a birthday luncheon - the third party held to mark his 90th - in Harare last week, Mugabe said he was also eagerly awaiting the adjustment.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa was cagey when recently challenged by opposition legislators in Parliament who demanded to know whether the government would honour its pledge on salaries.

"We are not yet in April," Chinamasa said.

Mugabe however, told guests at his luncheon that he hoped his minister was not planning an April Fools' prank.

"Were promised that we would get the money in April," Mugabe said.

"I was talking to (Public Service Commission chairman) Mariyawanda Nzuwah who is close to Chinamasa and he assured me that we would be paid.

"Even the President is also a worker - 1st of April don't fool us."

Unions representing the estimated 200,000 State workers have expressed concern over delays in effecting the increment, patience was wearing thin among their members.

"We are still stagnating. Our members are angry but we are pressing hard for a meeting to settle the issue," said Sifiso Ndlovu, the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta).

"We have written to the government through negotiating council chairperson [Nelson] Samburena [to request] that we hold a meeting to agree to the implementation of the deal.

"It (would be) good to get a public announcement from politicians on the issue, but we now urgently need a technical response."

Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe added: "A promise is a credit," he said. "The government must come clean on this issue."

Mugabe however, blamed delays in paying the new salaries on sanctions.

"We are currently going through a difficult patch as a result of the sanctions that were imposed on us," he said.

"This has resulted in a delay in the fulfilment of the promises of a salary increment that we made last year.

"It is, however, just a technical delay in the mobilisation of the monies, but the promise will be honoured. It is our wish, as Government, to have all our workers adequately compensated for their hard work."

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