Comment: It goes deeper than civil service bonuses

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IT seems the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing on the issue of civil service bonuses.

NewsDay comment

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa called a Press conference last week to announce categorically that the bonuses would not be paid for the next two years beginning this year. Sitting next to him was Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo and Presidential spokesperson George Charamba.

The reasons given for the withdrawal were detailed, cogent and strong. On paper, they made economic sense. But factor in the human element that the majority of civil servants are struggling, the decision should not have been so drastic. Civil servants naturally reacted with disappointment and anger.

How could they not when they are presently earning a pittance, with most of their salaries below the poverty datum line? How could they have responded otherwise when they see that the tiniest minority is earning obscene salaries?

Did the ministers jump the gun? We say this in the wake of President Robert Mugabe’s strong denial during his Independence Day speech on Saturday that such a decision had been made regarding the bonuses.

“. . . I want to make it clear that the reports in the newspapers that bonuses were being withdrawn, is not government policy. The Cabinet did not approve all that and the Presidency was never consulted on the matter. We were never consulted — the three of us, and that is myself and the Vice-Presidents — and we say that it is disgusting to us and it will never be implemented at all.”

Or is the “climbdown” due to the subsequent fallout? One would have expected the announcement of such a far-reaching decision after all the due clearance from the highest office in the land. The delayed response has not gone unnoticed but then, Mugabe, the politician that he is, maybe wanted his rebuttal to have maximum coverage and effect with virtually every Zimbabwean glued to the television.

Bar the politics of it, there is need for a completely new salary policy under which all employees are fairly and justly remunerated. How can we have someone in a government-linked organisation pay himself $500 000 a month as Premier Service Medical Aid Society CEO Cuthbert Dube has been earning and getting away with it?

This is patently wrong, unjustified, immoral and extortionate. Instead of adding value, he is taking away than he is giving. This has been in the public domain since the so-called “Salarygate” scandal was sensationally publicised in the State media. The nation expected heads to roll immediately, but real, meaningful, substantive commensurate action has not been taken.

Furthermore, this has been going on for years under Mugabe’s watch, so he bears the greatest share of blame because the buck stops with him. But the political will to tackle the issue decisively has not been there so far and for too long.

This government can afford to pay civil service bonuses if the national economic cake is shared more equitably than is presently the case. Belt-tightening must start and be most severe at the top. Only then can things start to fall into place.

It goes deeper than the immediate, very important issue of civil service bonuses. It’s about a distorted economy with scandalously widening income inequality under a supposedly socialist-inclined government that has seen them struggling to pay the mere crumbs of bonuses.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Haikona kuita kunge mwana mudiki Mr. Editor. There was no message that the President could have delivered on independence day. They had to create “good news”, and masterly done I must say. Instead of analyzing the whole speech which was full of yesteryear messages (empty as usual), you are now concentrating on this trivial issue.

    I see Bob is very good at controlling what you journalists and analysts debate about. Its time you stop looking at trivialities and start dictating what to debate rather than what they and how they want you to debate.

    • I think you are the one who is childish here. how can you say this issue is trivial when the Head of State and Government openly contradicts his own ministers. Moreso, how can this not be debated about when its a crucial decision affecting the economic course of the nation? and no it was not masterfully done because whatever the presidents says affects policy not only in the public sector but also in the private sector as private entities take a cue from government on issues of human resources and labour. So please this is not trivil , the fact that there is contradiction in government is a very, very big issue

  2. You are right Editor. ZANU PF clearly has no answers for the challenges that country is going through. I have two points:

    1) The idea of trimming government expenditure is very noble but certainly not starting with denying annual bonuses to the poor civil servants. This approach is like a doctor who takes skin off a patient’s face to graft on bums with severe burns. It’s illogical, if not downright evil, isn’t it? There are many areas the government could have started with, e.g. the obscene salaries that have taken decades to deal with, obscene allowances for senior government officials, unnecessary travel with huge entourages (starting with the president himself) and unnecessary exemptions from taxes for political proxies (e.g. chiefs now demanding exemption from paying toll fees).

    2) What message is the president sending out to development partners who would like to assist Zimbabwe if the country also shows commitment to deal with own inefficiencies? Chinamasa was in Washington trying to rally the Bretton Woods institutions to play ball because government had started playing it’s part. All of a sudden the President punches holes in that balloon of confidence. Isn’t this homophobic – a hatred of the masses? We know that come bonus time, despite the bonus being stated on the salary schedule, there will be no money. It’s better for civil servants to hear that they will not get a bonus and the government has also taken some crucial cost-cutting measures across the board. Everyone will support the move knowing that in the long-run everyone will be happy. But this… just for the few, well connected, loud praise-singers and long-tongued bootlickers!

  3. @DB thanx for ellucidating this The masvukupete guy failed to see this. The fact that the president mrntioned it in his speech makes this a national issue. I am not a fan of the Chinamasa but attacking ur minister and humiliating him shows lack of coherence in the govt. No FDIs will come our way with such behaviour. In other well run states the president will privately warn the minister and a press conference will be held by the minister reversing his decision. Can you wake up grandpa Robs this is no longer the GNU were u took a backseat only to lash out wen the MDC minister make a decision. Wake up a smell the coffee stop appointing incompetend goofies

  4. This issue is as trivial as the sanctions issue or the creation of 2.2 million jobs or ZIMASSET for as long as it is politicking and does not deliver results. Why did RGM not react when the announcement was made, maybe he was asleep? Why does RGM make policy announcements at public gatherings like funerals etc.? This is as trivial as the whole government is? We lack visionary leadership, period, hence I stand by the statement that whatever comes from government especially RGM at 91 is of not benefit to anyone except to himself.

  5. Now you see why this issue is trivial? It does not deliver any results? There will be no bonuses not because Chinamasa said so and his boss disagrees but there is just no money to pay even the salaries?

    • Mugabe is using a trick that we used when people were angry at Hitler’s shenanigans. He told them what they wanted to hear. When it was time to deliver he used Jews as an excuse. For Mugabe he can blame it on sanctions, Mujuru and her cabal, MDC, Makandiwa and Magaya.

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  7. Chinamasa and Berto agreed bonuses were going to be suspended till 2017. Both forgot to consult the President. After hearing of the proposed suspention President Mugabe told her husband bonuses will not be suspended. I don’t understand why Grace insists on bonuses. Really where is the money going to come from. Rumor has it that .Grace is going after the corrupt government officials to give back the ill begotten wealth. Stop it if you are corrupt. Zimbabwe should be well braced for the coming tsunami.

  8. I told Chinamasa and the Civil Servants that they would receive bonuses. Well I am not sure kuti ndichararamira until the end of the year. I didn’t want the civil servants and their spouses to become anxious to a level that havacha tund a because of worrying.

  9. THIS WAS A DELIBERATE AND CALCULATED DIRTY TRICK OF GOOD-COP AND BAD-COP MUGABE PLAYED ON THE NATION.

    MUGABE NEEDED TO ANNOUNCE SOME GOOD NEWS ON INDEPENDENCE AND WITH THE NATIONAL ECONOMY IN A REAL MESS THERE WAS NOTHING CHEERFUL HE COULD ANNOUNCE. SO HE CONTRIVED TO MANUFACTURE THE GOOD NEWS BY FIRST SENDING THE BAD-COP TO ANNOUNCE BAD NEWS AND ALLOW THE PARTY PROPAGANDA RUB THIS IN AND MAKE IS APPEAR THAT THIS IS THE WORST NEWS EVER!

    THEN IN WALKED THE GOOD-COP, MUGABE, TO ANNOUNCE THE GOOD NEWS THAT THE BONUSES WILL NOT BE SCRAPPED. DRUM ROLL! THE GREAT HERO HAS SAVED THE DAY!

    IN A COUNTRY WHERE MOST PEOPLE ARE SO NAIVE TO THE POINT OF BEING IMBECILES IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT MANY SWALLOW THE HOOK, LINE AND SINKER. IT WILL TAKE THEM MONTHS BEFORE IT DAWNS ON THEM THAT MUGABE DID NOT GIVE THEM ANYTHING THEY DID NOT HAVE ALREADY.

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