Fix the economy

National University of Science and Technology

FAILURE by the government to pay staff at State universities was inevitable as revenue inflows into Treasury have been shrinking in response to the slow but steady death of the economy.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has admitted in the past that most of the money the government generated was channelled towards salaries for civil servants.

However, following Zanu PF’s pyrrhic victory in July 31 2013 elections, companies have been closing down at an alarming rate and in the process narrowing down revenue streams for the government as less and less businesses are paying taxes.

The government has suggested a massive retrenchment exercise to reduce the wage bill, but this is akin to going for the low hanging fruit.

Zimbabwe’s problems can be traced back to policy inconsistencies, unhelpful rhetoric by President Robert Mugabe aimed at countries that have the means to inject life into the economy and unnecessary ambiguity when it comes to the protection of property rights.

As long as the government does not fix the economy, its ability to pay civil servants on time would be compromised and there would be unrest at campuses across the country.

Yesterday, students at the University of Zimbabwe rioted as their lecturers downed tools and the likelihood of unrest at other major institutions such as the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and Midlands State University (MSU) is very high.

Lecturers and non-teaching staff at Nust and MSU went on strike early this week and learning activities have come to a halt.

The staff resolved to boycott classes until the government pays them outstanding salaries and bonuses. The strike could be a harbinger for worse things to come since the government would continue to struggle to pay civil servants as long as the economy is broken.

Zimbabwe is a country in desperate need of foreign investment, but there has to be political will to fix the economy first. The government cannot expect university employees to work for free.