IN times past, a government official’s salary was never a secret. Every civil servant’s salary from the highest office bearer, the President and Prime Minister during the tentative years of our independence, were all gazetted and never much to write home about.
But over the years, the salaries and allowances of our top civil servants have increasingly become a closely guarded secret, to such an extent that any journalist who stumbled upon these figures would surely headline the next day.
And so, indeed, revelations of our Vice-Presidents’ salaries and allowances made it to the front page of our sister paper, The Standard. The revelations that our Vice-Presidents earn more than $14 000 every month is jaw-dropping and such a shock that one would be tempted to dismiss the figures as far-fetched, given the state of our economy and government coffers.
This is also especially stupefying, given that for much of this first quarter, and going into the second half of the year, the government has been steadfastly refusing to extend decent cost of living adjustments to its poorly remunerated workforce, many of who can now hardly afford to put a decent meal on their tables.
In light of these salaries being revealed we are beginning to doubt if our leaders really spare a thought for the thousands of civil servants whose salaries have since been gnawed into nothing by inflation and runaway prices.
And responses by Industry and Commerce deputy minister Rajesh Kumar Modi, when asked about the persistent three-tier pricing system in the country, are proof enough that our leaders are so far removed from reality that they don’t believe things are really tough for the majority of the country’s citizens.
“Let me inform the House that the question on the three-tier pricing of commodities has been overtaken by events following the February 20, 2019 monetary statement by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, during which he introduced an exchange rate between the RTGS$ and the US$,” Modi told parliamentarians with a straight face.
Little wonder that our leaders don’t know our suffering when they are cushioned by these out-of-this world salaries and wages. We doubt if we also buy from the same shops.