Time for govt to admit it can‘t pay bonuses now

Prisca Mupfumira

The Zimbabwean government has long developed a reputation of being a connoisseur of bad policy and their handling of the civil service bonus issue is testament to their failure to see more than a metre beyond their noses.

Comment: NewsDay Editor

The government had promised to conclude the issue by Monday, but has postponed the crucial meeting with public workers to next week.

It is as if the government, through Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira and her Finance counterpart, Patrick Chinamasa, is hoping next week never comes, because, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, the authorities will not have the money to pay bonuses.

Now, the government has come up with a most hotchpotch method of paying bonuses, which includes stands or half of the money they were supposed to pay.

Whatever weird ideas the ministers may come up with, we think it is time for them to accept that they cannot afford to pay bonuses and the promise made last year to pay the 13th cheque was as harebrained as they come.

The government has to get off its high horse and concede that they blundered and seek a moratorium from civil servants and tell them they will only pay when they have the money.

The government has to apologise for making promises they well knew they were not able to keep and seek to find a way out of this quagmire.

Had the authorities been honest with themselves, then they would not have made a commitment to pay what they clearly cannot afford.

The populist decision was to promise paying bonuses, but like all things centred on populism, this has boomeranged spectacularly and the government has no idea what to do.

The revenue cake long shrunk and the State cannot afford cutting large pieces to pay civil servants and other expenses, but should now content itself with a much smaller slice.

There would be no dishonour if the government admitted its shortcomings and decided to adopt a “kill-what-you-eat” policy, as this habit of spending more than the country makes is detrimental to development.

How the government thought it would pay bonuses when it cannot even afford what it offered to doctors borders on bizarre.

With civil servants demanding their bonuses, the government can prepare for a long winter of discontent, with strikes and threats of job actions and this is all of their doing, as it was avoidable from the beginning.

It is time the government cut its coat according to its cloth, lest it plunges this country into an economic abyss.