Govt paralysis unacceptable failure

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Government operations face more disruptions this week as civil servants look set to carry through their threats to embark on a five-day job boycott to press for better pay.

The strike is likely to affect services at government offices, schools and hospitals as health workers have also threatened to join the strike.

Civil servants, who earn a minimum of $200 a month, want their salaries upped to $538 for the lowest paid government worker.

Economists will agree these demands are unreasonable for an economy still struggling to emerge from a decade of collapse.

The salary bill for civil servants already takes up half of government revenue and giving in to their demands would spell doom for the fiscus.

But the strike is still inevitable because the dysfunctional inclusive government has not shown any seriousness in averting it.

The best Public Service minister Lucia Matibenga has done is to call for a meeting with unions on Wednesday, three days into the scheduled work stoppage.

Tendai Chikowere, chairperson of the Apex Council, a grouping of all unions representing civil servants, lays the blame for lack of progress in the wage negotiations squarely at Matibenga’s door.

We beg to differ.

It is the principals in the inclusive government — President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara — who must shoulder the blame.

Cabinet has not met in almost two months because President Mugabe has been on leave.

There is little that Matibenga can do to meet the demands of civil servants without the collective input of Cabinet.

It is not just the civil servants who have been affected by President Mugabe’s long absence and subsequent failure by Cabinet to meet.

A number of urgent national programmes are in limbo and this includes the release of the $40 million Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund targeting collapsing Bulawayo companies.

This is yet another clear indication that the inclusive government is an imperfect arrangement because President Mugabe was left firmly in control of the levers of power.

Nothing happens in his absence.

It is time those concerned about the future of the nation’s children woke up to the gathering crisis and performed their duty before things get worse.