A CRUNCH meeting to discuss payment of 2016 bonuses for civil servants ended in a stalemate yesterday after the workers rejected three non-cash offers tabled by the financially-crippled government.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
NewsDay gathered that negotiations reached a deadlock after government offered residential stands to its employees in lieu of bonus, or alternatively pay 50% of the bonuses in cash and the balance in non-monetary incentives.
Workers’ union leaders, who attended the meeting, said Treasury indicated it could not raise the full amount citing a severe cash squeeze, which has resulted in staggered salary payments for most civil servants since last year.
The government was represented by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, John Mangudya.
Addressing journalists in Harare soon after the meeting, Mupfumira said the parties had agreed to adjourn to February 20 to allow civil servants’ representatives time to consult with their constituents, but workers’ union leaders insisted that they had rejected the offer proposed by the government.
“We tabled three proposals, which they [workers] said they would want to take to their membership for consultations. We shall meet again on February 20 for a way forward,” Mupfumira said.
Although she did not reveal the proposals tabled to civil servants, NewsDay is informed that government had dangled residential stands in lieu of the 13th cheque.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe said the government was insincere on lack of resources, as most ministers and senior officials were living in luxury.
“This is madness, we will not accept that. While we might try to understand that things are hard, but if you look at government ministers and its [government] expenditure, you will see opulence, while we suffer. We should not deviate from tradition,” he said.
George Mushipe, of the Zimbabwe Rural Teachers’ Union, said, as civil servants, they would not accept anything else but money, as has been the norm.
But, Apex Council chairperson, Cecelia Alexander, said they would go back to their member for consultations on the offer made by their employer.
In 2015, Chinamasa proposed to shelve bonus payments, but the move was thwarted by President Robert Mugabe, who ordered him to “find the money without fail”.
Fast-forward to September 8, 2016, Chinamasa made a similar announcement in his mid-term fiscal review for the year and proposed to suspend annual bonuses for two years as part of measures to cut public expenditure.
Before the ink had dried, Information minister Christopher Mushohwe ruled him offside, saying the decision had not been approved by the government.