Give civil servants their pound of flesh

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CIVIL servants have signalled intentions to undertake a crippling public strike in protest over false promises by the seemingly clueless Zanu PF administration amid poor working conditions in the public sector.

Public servants want the administration to address issues surrounding payment of outstanding 2014 bonuses, unilateral shifting of pay dates, late submission of union fees, lack of action on non-monetary benefits, delayed establishment of the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council and the 2015 position paper on salaries and conditions of service.

Apex Council team leader Richard Gundane – who doubles up as the president of the powerful Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association – stated that civil servants had a right to be heard through the collective bargaining council and implored relevant government officials to regularly convene feedback meetings warning that “the shadow boxing going on has created a fertile ground for industrial action”.

Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance minister said staggering of bonus payments has been necessitated by efforts to overcome challenges encountered in mobilising the necessary resources.

But the solution of staggering civil service bill cannot be solved by denying civil servants bonuses. Most public workers earn very low salaries below the poverty datum line and bonuses are due to them and should be paid, especially in a country where the leadership has no qualms in proclaiming to the world the country is rich.

Our civil servants have a right to strike like any other employees because their grievances are justified. Zanu PF argues the strike is not justified, saying the government has no money.

This is nuisance because we only know it is broke for the wrong reasons, mostly corruption, profligacy at the top including the purchase of expensive cars, fuel and travel allowances for the chéfs.

If State resources are channelled where they should go then there would be enough for everyone. Unfortunately the top guys are greedy and incompetent.

A wholesale reduction in civil service expenditure based on recommendation of a proper audit is needed because Zimbabwe is a small country with only 13 million people. We can do with less than 16 Cabinet ministers without deputies and all the secretaries and perks.

Why do we need two vice-presidents and all staff and perks that go with them? Denying civil servants is a piecemeal remedy that does not curtail the civil service bill which is outrageous and above 90% of the budget. Civil servants demand their pound of flesh.