HARARE – Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC yesterday said civil servants must be paid their 2016 annual bonuses as a matter of urgency.
This comes after government advised on Wednesday that it was too broke to pay the 13th cheques, offering other options, including giving the restive public workers residential stands, instead.
But the Apex Council — umbrella body for all civil servants’ unions — rejected the offer and threatened industrial action.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira told civil servants that government could only afford to pay them through residential stands and other non-monetary benefits.
Government is for the second consecutive year struggling to pay bonuses due to dwindling revenue collections on the back of a broken economy.
MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu, yesterday said his party “calls upon the crumbling and faction-ridden Zanu PF regime to immediately pay out civil servants their 2016 annual bonuses”.
“If the Zanu PF regime would put its priorities right, it should be very easy and affordable for the national Treasury not only to timeously pay civil servants their salaries, but to also timeously pay civil servants their…2016 annual bonuses,” he said.
According to a salaries schedule released by the Finance ministry, the health sector was paid their salaries on January 20, followed by the police and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services who were paid on January 24.
The education sector will be paid on January 30 while the rest of the civil service will be paid on February 3, followed by pensioners on February 7.
The staff in grant-aided institutions will be the last to be paid on February 10.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency, government employs 300 000 workers, a number which does not include the army, air force, police and prisons.
Mupfumira told journalists after the Wednesday meeting that government had offered civil servants three options in lieu of bonuses — residential stands, a cash stipend coupled with non-monetary benefits and property investment bonds.
But Gutu said “why should civil servants be promised to be given unserviced residential stands in lieu of their 2016 annual bonuses when …. Mugabe takes no less than $4 million in cash each time that he travels out of the country?”