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Civil servants feel betrayed

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CIVIL servants yesterday said they felt betrayed after government failed to honour its unsolicited promise to pay them a salary increment by year end.

BY VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER

In the run up to and after the July 31 polls President Robert Mugabe promised to improve the welfare of government employees.

Public Service minister Nicholas Goche reiterated Mugabe’s promise saying government workers would receive an increment before year end. He, however, said power wrangles in the workers’ unions were affecting negotiations and delaying the increments.

Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday said the unions feared there might be no increments by January as Parliament was on recess and had not yet passed the 2014 Budget.

Civil servants get their salaries by mid-month and Parliament will only resume after the January government salaries have been paid.

“The promise by Mugabe was unsolicited and was not necessarily demanded or asked for and
those pronouncements are tantamount to policy. It is up to the implementers, the Public Service Commission to pursue and find a way of fulfilling the President’s promises,” said Ndlovu.

“However, when we enquired about it on December 24 it seemed the government representatives did not have a clue or an answer to the issue.”

Ndlovu said after the pronouncements by Mugabe at his inauguration the PSC had said it was looking for resources to honour the obligation before going quiet.

“When a proclamation is made at the highest level, there is no going back and we want to hold that office responsible for what it has said. They need to fulfil that promise even if it is late. I am doubtful that there will be any increment by January because during the discussions we had on Tuesday, there were no indications that it would be awarded.”

Ndlovu said in the absence of Parliament passing the Budget into a Finance Bill, Chinamasa’s pronouncements for salary increments remained, but statements. The Finance minister said civil servants salaries would be increased to at least the level of the poverty datum line (PDL), although the increments would be staggered.

The PDL stands at $540.

Parliament is currently on recess and committees will commence sitting on January 13 to discuss the Budget while both Houses will commence sitting on January 21 to pass the Finance Bills which have to do with the 2014 National Budget.

Ndlovu said Zimta had, however, not gone to a stage where they could issue an ultimatum for job action or say there was an impasse on the issue of salaries as they were still giving dialogue a chance. He said although the Apex Council had successfully been constituted, the shortcomings were that the legal framework did not promote bargaining, but provided only for consultations.

“There are no salary negotiations in the serious sense. The legal framework will be the same in that it still provides inhibitions,” he said.

Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said civil servants never asked for the increment, but it was offered by the President.

“That is one of our greatest disappointments of 2013 because we never asked for that increment as unions, but it was a directive from Mugabe that he would make sure by the end of December civil servants would have got the increment. It was an offer and so government should have given us what it was ordered to give us,” said Nyawo.

The lowest earning civil servant currently gets $296 per month and they want salaries adjusted in line with the PDL.

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