ZIMBABWE – Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti has berated successor Patrick Chinamasa for poor planning which has seen government failing to pay bonuses to State workers.
Civil service representative groups also expressed disquiet at the development, with the more militant union leaders demanding an outright confrontation with government if it fails to meet its pledges by January.
This economy can pay bonuses; I used to pay bonuses, Biti told Thursday.
Public Affairs Minister Prisca Mufumira, on Wednesday, assured civil servants their bonuses were still coming but failed to state when.
Biti, now opposition PDP leader, chastised his former government colleagues for spending lavishly on luxury cars at the expense of civil servants.
He however, exonerated President Robert Mugabe from the current mess even though the president, early this year, shot down attempts by Chinamasa to suspend the payment of bonuses for two years.
“If a chief orders you to feed your children and you fail, would you go back and blame the chief for that?” Biti said.
Not Mugabe’s fault
He was referring to President Mugabe’s independence day public rant against Chinamasa who had announced days earlier government was too broke to pay bonuses.
They have spent more than US$150 million on travelling; that money is controlled by Chinamasa and it could have gone to bonuses,” Biti said.
This year alone they have spent more than US$200 million on motor vehicles, every minister drives a Jeep that is worth more than US$180,000 in addition to a Mercedes Benz.
Surely, the cost of those cars could have gone to bonuses.
Biti said, during his time, he commanded a tight spending system that ensured civil servants were not short changed if it came to their bonuses.
He was finance minister during the country’s short-lived GNU three years ago where he earned local and international admiration for taming a wild economy which was reeling from a record inflation levels hovering in hundreds of millions.
Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Zimbabwe Teachers Association president and Apex Council chair, Richard Gundani said the cloud surrounding their bonus payments has created anxiety within the government workforce.
Teachers give January ultimatum
“The mood right now is that of anxiety, said Gundani.
When you keep expecting something pay day after pay day and it doesn’t come and you do not have clear information to explain why this is happening or when the payment is going to come, the first thing is that of anxiety.
The next thing is that you are bound to get frustrated but at the moment it is at the level of anxiety,” Gundani said.
He demanded clear commitment from government in terms of dates and time the bonuses will be paid.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou was more scathing in his condemnation.
As a trade unionist, if what the employer has communicated to employees, we are expecting our bonus and we will give government up to January 2016 to pay our bonuses, he told NewZimbabwe.com.
If the government fails then it would have done nothing other than urinating upon the civil servants and we will take appropriate action.
As employees, we don’t mind where the government will get money. Even if they are to borrow it from Satan, we want our bonuses to be paid after doing a lot of good and hard work with so little.