APEX Council chairperson Richard Gundani has challenged government to confirm its pledge to review civil servants’ salaries in writing to the National Joint Negotiation Council (NJNC) instead of verbal pronouncements at public gatherings.
BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
Gundani told NewsDay yesterday that although his members were happy with President Robert Mugabe’s recent pronouncements that civil servants would get their salary increment next month, they would have been happier if the commitment was put in writing.
Mugabe last Friday reiterated that government employees would have their salaries reviewed next month, adding that Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and his Public Service counterpart Nicholas Goche were currently seized with the matter.
Said Gundani: “We first heard about this last month before our payday from ministers Chinamasa and Goche, and now that it has been reiterated by the President, it gives us confidence.What we would have wanted, however, is a written commitment made through NJNC.”
He said although the political will was important, practical steps should be taken on the ground to ensure that the promise was fulfilled.
“Our attitude is that the promise must not go beyond April 1,” he said.
College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe chairperson David Dzatsunga, however, said they took such remarks “with large servings of salt” and treated such public announcements “with the contempt they deserve”.
“The promises have been one too many,” he said. “We have heard these promises before, but nothing has materialised. They have also told us about a token of appreciation that never was. So these promises will always be made without any due regard being made to them.”
According to the agreement they reached with the government, civil servants were supposed to receive their adjusted salaries in February backdated to January. The deal, which was struck last month, was expected to see the lowest paid person getting three-quarters of the Poverty Datum Line, which was set at $505. Another review was due mid-2014.
Civil servants make up the country’s largest workforce at about 230 000 and on average take home nearly $300 monthly against a poverty datum line figure of $560, which is the minimum set out for basic sustenance.
In his 2014 National Budget statement, Chinamasa said the salaries of civil servants alone were gobbling nearly 75% of the State’s monthly income.