ZIMBABWE – Civil servants yesterday applauded Government’s decision to furnish them with exact dates when their 2015 bonuses will be paid, saying the move enabled them to plan and concentrate on service delivery.
The Government workers also heaped praises on President Mugabe — who made a commitment last year that civil servants would be paid their 13th cheque — saying it showed that “his words will never go down the river”.
Most civil servants, who traditionally get their bonuses in November, had started losing hope that the pledge would be honoured.
Finance and Economic Developed Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced this week that the bonuses would be staggered between this month and May. Members of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe will get paid this month, followed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service and the health sector next month.
The education sector, which accounts for the highest number of civil servants, gets paid in April while the rest of the civil service and grant-aided institutions will be rewarded in May.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said it was refreshing to have an “administrative commitment” in place.
“We had no doubt about the political commitment by President Mugabe which has come into fruition, but what was only lacking was the administrative commitment,” he said.
“Now it is in place, with specific months, and we welcome that because it comes at a time we are putting pressure. We understand the predicament of the economy and understand that a once-off payment was not possible, but more importantly Government has shown that it is considerate to the plight of the workers.”
Minister Chinamasa wanted to suspend the bonuses for last year and 2016 citing lack of fiscal space to fund other Government projects, but President Mugabe ruled that the 13th cheque could not be withdrawn as it had become “a right”.
Said College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr David Dzatsunga: “We appreciate that Government has finally provided a concrete timeline in which bonuses will be paid. Much as we would have wanted it earlier, this concrete commitment at least allows us to plan.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe said the move was a demonstration of how committed President Mugabe was in improving the Government workers’ working conditions.
“What he promised has happened and it shows his words will never go down the river,” he said.
“We are only disturbed by the hierarchy in the payment. Those who have always been paid first (defence forces) should come last so that we can see that we are all equal before the employer.”
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo said as workers, they were giving credit to President Mugabe who did not shift goal posts despite the cash flow challenges being experienced by Government.
At least 83 percent of Government revenue goes towards salaries and Government has moved in to rationalise the civil service to reduce its wage bill.
A raft of strategies recommended by an audit carried out by the Civil Service Commission last year are being implemented to reduce the wage bill.