BULAWAYO- Bulawayo was alive yesterday with civil servants, a majority of them teachers who received their annual bonuses going on a massive shopping spree.
Teachers who earn an average $400 per month had more than $800 deposited into their bank accounts this month.
Scenes of lighter moments dominated the entire day, as civil servants and their families thronged shopping outlets to shop for Christmas.
Long queues were observed in most banks in the morning, as people withdrew cash to spend.
Fast food outlets were not spared from the hyperactivity, especially during lunch.
A majority of companies in and around Bulawayo are expected to close shop for the holidays this week.
Some families were shopping goodies for their relatives in the rural areas while others are planning to enjoy the festivities in the villages.
In separate interviews, the teachers said they were happy that the Government lived up to its promise to pay them their bonuses this month.
“We are very happy that we have finally received our bonus like others. I withdrew mine two hours ago. The Government has lived up to its promises,” said a teacher who declined to be named.
Last year, the Government staggered bonus payments for civil servants with those in the education sector getting the 13th cheque in December while other workers got theirs in November.
Another teacher who identified himself as Mr Ndlovu said he received his bonus as well as an allowance.
“I received my bonus and an allowance. As an Advanced Level teacher, we get $25 allowance per month for teaching these classes but the money comes at the end of the term,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The teachers said the money had come at an opportune time when they were preparing for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“We are heading towards the holiday and this money will help us to enjoy with our families,” said another teacher.
There was also excitement in the resort town of Victoria Falls as teachers swarmed the town’s shops to buy goodies after receiving their bonuses.
Furniture shops, electrical shops and clothing shops in the town recorded brisk business as the civil servants bought a wide range of goods.
Fast food outlets and the usually quiet drinking spots were also a hive of activity.
“The day has been made sweet by the fact that cash is readily available in banks. There are no long queues,” said a teacher from Baobab Primary School.
An official from the Ministry of Finance who preferred anonymity said teachers were the only group that had not yet received their bonuses this year.
“The rest of the civil servants got their bonuses last month and teachers were the only group left. They received their bonuses with allowances,” said the official.
The lowest paid Government worker earns about $296 per month while the poverty datum line is estimated to be around $600.
The civil servants have piled pressure on the Government to review their salaries and recently threatened to boycott participating in national events such as the anticipated elections and constitution referendum in order to force their employer to respond to their grievances.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said Government is prepared to pay its workers an inflation linked salary increase.