Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has imposed a 5 percent pay cut for top government officials including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputies as authorities continue groping for solutions on how to tame a giant government bill that has seen expenditure far outstrip revenue collections.
He was presenting his maiden 2019 budget before parliament on Thursday.
"Mr Speaker Sir, it is critical that we reduce public spending on employment costs," he said.
"As a first step, government has decided that effective 1 January 2019, a 5% cut on basic salary, be effected for all senior positions from principal directors, permanent secretaries and their equivalents up to deputy Ministers, Ministers and the Presidium."
The treasury chief's envisaged austerity measures will also affect parastatal bosses as well as constitutional commissions.
"This is also extended to basic salaries of those in designated posts in State Owned Enterprises (CEOs), executive directors and equivalent grades), including Constitutional Commissions and grant aided institutions," he said.
As if to admit government has been paying commissioners on partisan grounds, Ncube said government will also work towards aligning benefits of office holders.
"A standardisation/alignment exercise in remuneration including benefits for Constitutional Commissions, will also be undertaken to remove inequity and disparities," Ncube added.
While agreeing to paying bonuses to government workers, Ncube again moved to cut expenditure by limiting it to "basic salaries only".
"With regard to the 13th cheque payment, government recognises that this is an integral component of the Remuneration Framework," he said.
"Government appreciates the hard work its employees render in their various portfolios and services. For 2018 in particular, we close the year at a time when employees face a number of hardships.
"Accordingly, government has taken the position that bonus be payable for 2018, with commitment that these payments be processed before year end.
"Traditionally, payment of the 13th cheque is computed as the sum of Basic Salary, Housing and Transport allowances. Previously, the Budget incurred expenditure of around $174.6 million in bonus payment," said the treasury boss.