Govt must honour civil servants’ pledge

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe in the run-up to the July 31 elections made several pledges to increase civil servants salaries as soon as his Zanu PF party won a majority in Parliament.

Mugabe was granted his wish and the party won an overwhelming majority in the elections that enabled him to form an exclusively
Zanu PF government.

At his inauguration the following month, the Zanu PF leader reiterated his pledge to pay civil servants salaries above the poverty datum line estimated at $535.

The promises were repeated by Labour minister Nicholas Goche who went on to promise teachers a token increment before the end of the year while the government worked on a substantive salary increment.

As the year draws to an end, it is becoming clear that these promises were only made to enable Zanu PF to win an election.

The issue of salaries for civil servants were so politicised that Mugabe sought to blame former Finance minister Tendai Biti for the poor remuneration of government workers.

It goes without saying that such political posturing is an act of dishonesty because Mugabe was Biti’s supervisor during the tenure of the inclusive government and the decision to freeze civil servants’ salaries was a decision of a Cabinet that he chaired.

Similarly after the formation of the new government that is only made up of Zanu PF members, false promises continue to be made.

The perfect excuse was that leaders of civil servants’ unions were divided and the government could not engage them in proper negotiations.

However, the truth is that the government is broke and cannot raise civil servants’ salaries without severely straining its resources beyond the constraints it is operating under.

The situation was laid bare between November and this month where the payment of bonuses had to be staggered and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa failed to make a proper allocation for an increase in salaries.

The government should come clean and stop raising false hopes by continuously making promises it cannot fulfil.