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Cash Crisis: Civil Servants Refuse Stands, Bonuses Coming

Harare – Low revenue inflows has activated government to dangle residential stands in lieu of 2016 bonuses, a cash stipend coupled with non...

Harare – Low revenue inflows has activated government to dangle residential stands in lieu of 2016 bonuses, a cash stipend coupled with non-monetary benefits and property investment bonds.

Government intends to build 300 000 residential units by 2018 to reduce a housing backlog of 1,25 million. Home stands offered to civil servants will be availed at $4 per square metre, much less than the prevailing commercial rates.

“We tabled three proposals, which they said they would want to take to their membership for consultations. We shall meet again for a way forward,” revealed minister of Public Service, Prisca Mupfumira.
Civil Servants Refused Residential Stands Offers 

Stands offer
121 000 of the 500 000 employees accepted the offer, while others maintain that, though they need residential stands, their 13th cheque remains a priority.

“We did not refuse residential stands – but for now we need our money and better working conditions for our profession. As a nurse, if I don’t work night shift, I cannot make enough for the family,” said John Revai, a nurse.

Zimbabwe’s civil servants salaries exhaust 80 percent of the national revenue. Though the 2017 budget made no provisions for bonuses, President Robert Mugabe tasked treasury to source funds.

“Against expenditure pressures, implementation of the 2016 National Budget inevitably requires further fiscal reforms in order to rebalance expenditures with anticipated revenues, including rationalising public expenditures, as well as the reduction of employment costs in favour of capital and social spending, Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa said.

In 2016, public employment costs gobbled $1,6 billion of revenue in six months, constituting 96,8 percent of total revenue. Seeking to arrest wage costs, government initiated a streamlining exercise to trim its ballooned workforce by 25 000, freezing vacant posts, slashing salaries and foregoing bonuses for two years.

Ongoing discussions between government and workers representatives have yielded little.

“For the avoidance of doubt to all concerned, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta), as the largest teacher trade union in Zimbabwe, wants to categorically state that it has sufficiently consulted its membership dotted in all corners of Zimbabwe. And has been appropriately advised to demand for the payment of the 2016 bonus in cash,” said the association in a statement.

Industrial action
Government employees had planned to embark on a nationwide civil servants strike, as the 2016 bonus talks drag on. Already, an industrial action by the health sector is a week old.

“All the 15 unions will congregate in Harare. We are saying there will be no work for all government workers on March 6 (2017) to show government that we want our bonuses in cash. It will be a demonstration of force,” Raymond Majongwe, Apex acting chairperson, an umbrella union body for government employees said.

Government finally met union leaders to finalise the issue. 

“I want to confirm that we finally agreed on the payment of bonuses in cash and staggered form. Dates will be advised,” Apex Council Chairperson, Cecilia Alexander said.

For the second week, health institutions are functioning with skeletal staff, as doctors and nurses’ strike enters a second week, citing poor working conditions. Uniformed forces have been called to help, while government finds a solution.

“As negotiations are going on, I am appealing to all health workers on strike to go back to work. We are losing a lot of patients. Their duty is to their patients. Your point has been heard, and government has listened to your concerns,” appealed the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa.

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