There has been an outcry in Victoria Falls, as civil servants living in government houses were ordered to pay rentals ranging from $50 to $120, amid reports the cash-strapped government is trying to boost its coffers.
Reports say the directive has affected all civil servants living in government houses countrywide and rentals would be deducted from the employees via the Salary Services Bureau.
In the resort town, reports say employees from Registrar General, judiciary, National Prosecuting Authority, Immigration Department and many others were directed to pay $50 rentals for houses in high density suburbs and $120 for those in the low-density.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday said this was not a new development, as all those who were staying in government houses were paying rent.
“Maybe these people were not staying in national houses but those owned by other departments,” he explained. “Employees who are staying in national houses were paying a small rent, which would then be used to build other houses.
“Even those who are staying in Harare, stay in rented houses.
“So I am not sure why people you are talking about were not paying rentals.
“I will have to check on that and you also verify with other government departments affected and verify whether the houses are owned by us.”
Civil servants in the resort town said the houses were administered by the Local Government ministry and slammed the government over the timing for demanding rentals, arguing that it came when things were getting tough for them due to the non-performing economy.
“Things are hard for us and the government is paying us low salaries, but they want to further deduct money from those meagre earnings,” an affected civil servant said.
“They are making our lives unbearable as we are already suffering.”
Another government employee said they were not against paying rent, but the timing by the government, was what had raised the furore, considering that salary increases had been frozen.
“They should have increased our salaries first and then demand rentals,” he said.
“Right now there is a moratorium on salary increases and where do they think we get that money when we are already over taxed?”
The move by the government has been seen as influenced by the need to boost coffers, as it has been struggling to pay civil servants since last year.