BY FARAI MATIASHE
VARIOUS workers’ unions have slammed Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s decision to hike charges for government services without adjusting civil servants’ salaries.
On Thursday, Ncube presented his mid-term budget review in Parliament and piled more misery on already burdened Zimbabweans, with tollgates fees and electricity tariffs rising sharply as well as other services from the Vehicle Inspection Department.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Japhet Moyo told NewsDay Weekender that the mid-term budget review showed that Ncube was out of touch with reality.
“Ncube did not ask for our input when he put together his mid-term budget. We could have highlighted the plight of the workers with his austerity policies. Probably it was deliberate that he never sought our views because he wanted to go it alone and continue to impoverish the most vulnerable people like workers,” he said.
For the past week, ZCTU has been threatening to organise mass demonstration against President Emerson Mnangagwa’s government over the rising costs of living.
Moyo said this time around, some action against the rising cost of living was imminent.
“The magnitude of increases is frightening when you compare with stagnant salaries. Obviously, the workers would have to show their disappointment through some form of action,” he said.
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Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe leader Obert Masaraure said the review showed government’s disregard of worker’s welfare.
“Ncube had the audacity to increase prices of government offered services by up to 500%, but is not prepared to do the same with our salaries. Civil servants should realise that we are dealing with a devil determined to throw us in a living hell,” he said.
Masaraure said it was high time civil servants become brave enough to come face-to-face with the government to push it to consider their welfare.
“Under such circumstances, we can no longer afford to keep on shadow boxing. We have to step into the ring and declare that enough is enough. Our teachers are already on early holiday in protest against underpayment. It will be folly to open schools in third term if our salary is not restored,” he said.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said teacher representatives were at Parliament following up on their petition focusing on their salaries and conditions of service.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said the mid-term budget would not improve the welfare of government workers.
“That budget, in real terms, is only awarding us about 43% which is short of our expectations. It is disconfirming what they gave us in July. They are giving us almost half of it. Prices have gone up and they will continue to go up until the year end. There is no joy for us as civil servants,” he said.
MDC deputy secretary for policy and research Miriam Mushayi said the mid-term budget was a clear statement that government had failed to run the country.