SW Radio Africa (London)

18 July 2014

Zimbabwe: No Fixed Pay Dates for Civil Servants

President Robert Mugabe's government says it is so broke that it cannot even guarantee fixed pay dates for public servants.

As a result the government is now issuing civil servants with undated pay-slips. The new arrangement will remain in place for as long as the national cash squeeze lasts, top Public Service Ministry official Tongai Muzenda told senators Thursday. MDC-T Senator Watchy Sibanda had asked Muzenda whether civil servants would be getting paid in view of the undated payslips that the government had issued.

In his response Muzenda told senators that the date had been deliberately omitted to give the government enough time to raise funds for salaries. Most civil servants used to get their salaries around mid-month.

"There no dates on the new payslips and it is not an omission, it's just saying we are going to pay in the due month. That is going to be the case for some time until our economy has stabilised," he said.

Although civil servants are now used to getting their wages well after the pay date, a senior union official said they view the undated payslip as a new low, even by Zim government standards.

Earlier this month Richard Gundani, head of civil servants unions umbrella body the Apex Council, said they were fed up with the government's inconsistency on salaries.

Speaking to SW Radio Africa on Friday, College Lecturers Association president David Dzatsunga said the move was alarming and unprecedented.

"This is an alarming development which will worsen the plight of civil servants. To start with, we are no longer creditworthy and no finance house will want to give anyone without a guaranteed income a mortgage for example.

"I think every worker has a right to know when their salary will be paid to enable them to plan and also meet their own financial obligations," Dzatsunga said.

Just before last year's July 31st elections, President Robert Mugabe personally promised civil servants that his government would improve their salaries and conditions of service once ZANU PF was back in total control.

But a year after ZANU PF assumed power, civil servants like most ordinary Zimbabweans, have been disappointed at the total lack of political and economic leadership from a ruling party that has been in power for 34 years.

There are no jobs and many of those who are still formally employed, like the civil servants, are not getting paid as the country is broke. The finance ministry has to scrounge around to meet what should be a basic obligation for any employer - paying staff.

On Monday, Provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti angered flood victims at Chingwizi camp in Mwenezi when he told them they can't have compensation because the funds earmarked for that purpose had been diverted to pay civil servants.

While the uncertainty persists in Chingwizi and for ordinary Zimbabweans and civil servants, President Mugabe is set to continue embarking on his multi-million-dollar trips abroad and parastatal chiefs continue to draw their mega salaries.

The Zim government has always blamed the western-imposed targeted sanctions for the country's economic problems, but most of these measures have now been lifted yet conditions are getting worse.

The country has been selling its diamonds at international markets but still can't fund anything, including its much-touted ZimAsset economic programme. Foreign donors have again been roped in to provide the funds.

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