The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has accused the government of enslaving its workers by paying them extremely low salaries.
The development comes as it emerged that the civil servants’ housing loan scheme, introduced to raise morale among government workers, has benefited mostly senior officials at the expense of rank and file workers.
Civil servants, bitter that the government is failing to pay them adequate salaries and has failed to decisively deal with thousands of “ghost” workers who are eating into their meagre salaries, are mulling a strike.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said the government did not have an excuse for failing to pay its workers, more so because some of the money generated from the country’s natural resources was not going through the national fiscus.
“Whatever excuse they have does not stick and we are calling on the government to come to its senses and realise that slave wages have no place in this day and age. The civil servants’ salaries are the worst in the country and in the region,” said Matombo.
“This country is very rich in both human and natural resources, but the Ministry of Finance says some of the money, especially from platinum, is not going through the fiscus. So where is it going?
“Alluvial diamonds are raking in lots of money, but the money is not going to the fiscus.
“Thirdly, we are hearing about ghost workers: Who is perpetuating this and why are people allowed to siphon money?” he asked.
Matombo said his organisation was supporting the civil servants’ cause because it believed they were being ill-treated.
Civil service unions have revealed that that the $6 million facility introduced by the government to aid its workers to acquire houses or stands, has benefited only top government officials.
“Most of the funds went to people who are in high offices and already have houses. For example, in the Ministry of Education, provincial education directors were getting about $10 000 each, deputy provincial directors got $8 000 and principal directors got $7 000.
Teachers only got between $500 and
$1 000, and only three teachers per district benefited,” said Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe.
“The money is not enough to buy stands and the people who got the real money already have houses, some of them several. There was no transparency, the money was clandestinely and Nicodemously distributed.”
Apex Council chairperson Tendai Chikowore said the unions were not involved or consulted in the allocation of the funds.
“The whole process was shrouded in secrecy, workers were not properly advised and information travelled through rumours. In the end only those in towns or with connections benefited,” said Chikowore.
“But for 2011, we have demanded that there must be a representative from the Apex Council so that there is transparency and that all levels are satisfied.”