By Dakarai Mashava
APEX Council, the umbrella body for civil servants’ unions, has said government has come up with a new national command housing scheme to be launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa soon.
This comes as government has launched numerous command projects in various sectors — agriculture, fishery and forestry.
Cecilia Alexander, who was recently re-elected Apex Council chairperson, made the announcement during belated International Women’s Day celebrations hosted by the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) in Harare on Saturday.
“They (government) intend to roll out a massive command housing scheme …420 000 units are going to be constructed and 230 000 of these are to benefit civil servants,” said the Apex Council chairperson.
She said the new housing scheme would be different from the one put in place by former president Robert Mugabe’s government which required civil servants to make monthly contributions of $150 each before the construction of the houses.
“We put on hold the previous one because it required payment before the construction. The new dispensation has a different approach to it.
“Unlike the previous one, beneficiaries will start paying on occupying the housing units and not before,” said Alexander.
Former president Mugabe’s government had promised to kick-start the scheme by building model flats in Harare, Bulawayo and other provincial capitals but the initiative could not take off largely because civil servants had refused to pay the $150 monthly contributions.
The civil servants argued that they were not supposed to pay because the provision of the houses was supposed to be part of non-monetary incentives promised by Mugabe’s government.
Meanwhile, civil servants have cautiously welcomed the appointment of minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring, Implementation of Government Programmes Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as the minister responsible for the administration of the public service.
“We have since received communication from government to the effect that minister Mumbengegwi is now responsible for the administration of the public service.
“We are not sure if it is the right thing to be under a minister resident in the president’s office. We are still seeking medical opinion; that is why we have not sent any congratulatory messages,” said Alexander.
Mumbengegwi’s appointment comes after Zimta and the Apex Council had written to Mnangagwa protesting against their relocation to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
Early this month Zimta said the shunting of the civil service to the OPC was an unconstitutional move by the government meant to disenfranchise civil servants.
In the three-page letter dated January 19, signed by Zimta secretary-general Tapson Nganunu Sibanda the teachers’ union attacked the Mnangagwa administration for violating the Constitution.
“The shift of the civil service to the OPC will amount to acting in violation of the supreme law of the land i.e. the Constitution of Zimbabwe, in that the civil service will be left with no minister.
“This will be contrary to section 201 of the Constitution which mandates that ‘the president must appoint a minister to be responsible for the civil service,” reads part of the letter.
The absence of a minister in charge of government workers, according to Zimta, was an assault on the civil service.
“In terms of section 203 (3) of the Constitution, the Civil Service Commission also exercises its functions in accordance with general policy directives which the minister responsible for the civil service may give.
“As announced, there will be no minister responsible for the civil service owing to the re-configuration. DailyNews