CIVIL servants’ unions on Wednesday called on President Robert Mugabe to immediately implement the salary review that he pledged on Heroes’ Day, saying they cannot endure another six months without a salary increase due to the high cost of living.
VENERANDA LANGA/NQOBILE BHEBHE
Public Service Association executive secretary Emmanuel Tichareva said civil servants had been patient with the government for too long and could not wait any longer.
“We want it as soon as possible because we have not had a salary rise for quite some time. Six months is a long time to wait,” he said.
“Normally, we don’t work on statements made at rallies. We don’t doubt that Mugabe meant what he said, but this is going to be followed up and we will be making appointments with the government soon to ensure it happens.”
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the issue of civil servants’ salaries should not be delayed.
“We won’t accept adjustments by the end of the year because we cannot endure another six months. We want that process expedited,” he said. “We are clear that we want a sober Public Service minister who is genuinely pro-poor to address these issues.
“The real battle has started and we want Mugabe to address these issues. We are not going to accept salaries announced at rallies or the politburo, but we want to begin salary negotiations with the government immediately.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said Mugabe’s utterances showed he was ready to address the matter.
“We don’t doubt him, but if this does not happen, we will have to hold the government to account for this. It came voluntarily from his mouth,” he said. “We don’t see how Mugabe can mislead the country on Heroes’ Day when he is saying he will satisfy the ideals of the people who died for this country.”
But prominent economist Eric Bloch warned that there was danger in awarding people salaries on funds not budgeted for.
“Civil servants are grossly underpaid and that is why we are losing most of those who are skilled,” he said.
“It would be a good move to review their salaries, but the government must first eliminate the 6 000 ghost workers and diminish foreign travel to meet that expense. Increasing salaries might jeopardise economic recovery.”
Bloch said the incoming government must be wary of increasing taxes so it could finance a larger wage bill.
In 1997, the government awarded war veterans a $50 000 gratuity each, which was not budgeted for and observers say this is one of the major contributing factors to Zimbabwe’s economic downturn.