HARARE – The MDC has slammed the Zanu PF government’s plan to give 250 000 civil servants residential stands and land to construct high rise flats, arguing the move is a campaign gimmick ahead of the 2018 elections.
On Tuesday, Local Government ministry permanent secretary George Mlilo announced the project, saying they hope to start implementation in March.
“Right now, we are finalising the preparatory work on the pricing of flats and servicing of stands.
“We have land in all the provincial capitals and will go to other smaller urban centres which had been selected by people. The land we have now can cater for half of the civil service,” he said.
But the Morgan Tsvangirai led-MDC, said “the crumbling and bankrupt Zanu PF regime” was illegally acquiring the residential stands . . . that are not . . . properly surveyed”.
“Unfortunately, this chaotic and patently illegal land acquisition exercise has given rise to the sprouting of illegal settlements in these urban areas,” spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
He added that “civil servants have bore the brunt of the naked lies that are routinely churned out by the collapsing Zanu PF regime. Their salaries are not being paid in time and even up to now; they still haven’t been paid their much-deserved 2016 annual bonuses”.
Gutu said “one day, very soon, these Zanu PF looters and land barons shall be held to account”.
“Cabinet ministers . . . have managed to build multi-million dollar mansions in Harare, obviously through the proceeds of ill-gotten wealth,” he said.
“We challenge these Zanu PF thieves to submit themselves to a lifestyle audit so that the toiling and suffering masses of Zimbabwe can be able to ascertain how these corrupt Cabinet ministers have managed to construct multi-million dollar mansions at a time when more than 75 percent of the population are living in penury and abject poverty; surviving on less than $2 per day,” Gutu said.
In implementing the project, Mlilo said the Urban Development Corporation (Urdcorp) will assist in identifying and selecting professional consulting firms, adding that banks will be roped in to provide affordable interest rates to the civil servants.
“We will be banking with them and so expect to have user-friendly interest rates. We expect to get not less than $20 million for the project so that we can go ahead with the servicing,” Mlilo said.
Apex council spokesperson George Mushipe said while civil servants appreciate that government has taken into consideration their plight, they “will hold the permanent secretary (Mlilo) accountable as he said the project will be rolled out in March”.
“Let it be known that bonus stands are an item alone while these stands and flats are another issue,” he cautioned.
Mushipe said the stands promised in relation to bonuses will be discussed in their February 20 meeting with government.
Government has offered civil servants three options in lieu of bonus; the distribution of serviced stands where government pays 50 percent of the bonus in the form of land and the other half comes in the form of staggered cash payments.
The other, and by far the most ridiculous option, is the payment of bonuses in the form of a dividend where, instead of paying the workers directly, the cash will be invested in money-market instruments which will presumably yield a return down the line. This unorthodox option was described by the Apex Council as “laughable”.
Civil servants have been threatening industrial action over their bonuses.