ZIMBABWE – President Mugabe did not give any Cabinet Minister a two-day ultimatum to announce dates for the payment of civil servants’ 2015 bonuses, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said yesterday.
She said, while dates and modalities on the payment of the outstanding 13th cheque were expected after her meeting with Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, President Mugabe had never given anyone a deadline on the issue.
The private media yesterday claimed that during the first 2016 Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Mugabe had given ministers Mupfumira and Chinamasa up to today to provide the dates when the bonuses would be paid.
Responded Minister Mupfumira: “I think even the President is shocked to read this. The President left the Cabinet meeting early because of other commitments and the issue of bonuses was not mentioned in his presence. The issue came as any other business. I am not aware of the ultimatum.”
“Cabinet follows an agenda and the issue was not on the agenda, but as concerned people we discussed it that we have to come up with a way forward on what we will do.”
She said contrary to reports by some sections of the media, Government had not abandoned the payment of bonuses.
“We have agreed to meet (with Minister Chinamasa) and see how we will proceed,” she said.
“There is no going back on the issue of bonuses, but we are going to stagger because what we cannot afford is a once off payment.
Minister Chinamasa said he is working on something and our meeting would be to see the possible process of payment.
“The position remains clear that at some point, we have to give that bonus. We will come up with a way of paying and we are not running away from it neither have we abandoned the idea.”
In the previous years, Government staggered the bonuses due to cash flow challenges and some workers received their 13th cheque as late as January instead of the traditional November.
Last month, Government had to change pay dates for its workers with the last batch getting their salaries on January 5.
Government later met the civil servants representatives and gave them specific pay dates when their salaries would be paid.
Members of the Zimbabwe National Army got their salaries on January 16, those from Zimbabwe Republic Police on January 20 while those in the education got paid on Wednesday.
The rest of the civil service will be paid tomorrow.
Government has come up with a number of strategies of steering economic growth by reducing the civil service wage bill, which chews about 83 percent of the revenue.
Student teachers and trainees’ allowances have been reduced from $329 to $157 while salaries for teachers at private and trust schools have been terminated.
All vacant posts have been abolished, bus fare for civil servants has been re-introduced, under-used staff is being redeployed, funding of bridging courses has been scrapped while all members who were abusing various types of leave, tampering with pay sheets and attendance registers have been charged.