Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Civil servants to get bonus at last

By Martin Kadzere in Victoria Falls

Civil servants will get a 13th cheque next week while the Government has pledged to allocate more resources in the 2011 National Budget to improve their welfare. Finance Minister Tendai Biti told a pre-budget seminar here that Government had already finished working on November salaries and a full bonus for civil servants.

“We have finished working on the issue of civil servants’ salaries and they will also get their bonuses next week,” said Minister Biti. He said about US$58 million would be required to pay November salaries as well as the 13th cheques. Civil servants are taking home an average US$160 per month, which is far below the Poverty Datum Line.

Civil servants have demanded PDL-based salaries, which would mean the lowest paid State employee should take home around US$500. Earlier, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had told the same meeting that Government would “sacrifice” more resources in the 2011 National Budget to improve Government workers’ lives.

He said: “In prioritising (civil servants’ welfare), we have to sacrifice. It is time we prioritise the issue of civil servants because they have been sacrificed for a long time,” said the PM, who also expressed concern over parliamentarians’ salaries. Members of Parliament are earning about US$200 and say they last received their allowances two years ago.

Government froze civil servants’ salaries in May, arguing that reviewing them upwards could compromise economic recovery and growth prospects. About 236 000 employees are on the Govern-ment’s payroll, which consumes 70 percent of the total domestic revenues and 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

Economists recommend that no more than 30 percent of the budget be channelled to salaries as per World Bank standards. Presenting recommendations on the 2011 National Budget, the chair of the House of Assembly’s Finance and Investment Promotion Portfolio Committee, Cde Paddy Zhanda (Zanu-PF) said the fact that civil servants were underpaid meant the majority of Zimbabwe’s working population was poor.

The committee recommended an upward adjustment of salaries. “It is recommended that we gradually increase the salaries to levels sufficient to survive. We recommend that you allow for a gradual adjustment of salaries starting off from a band of 5 to 10 percent at intervals of six months,” said Cde Zhanda. Parliamentarians appealed to Government to seriously look into their welfare.

“Since the 25th of August 2008, Members of Parliament have been committed to national duty, putting their energy and commitment to seeing that our country moves forward and religiously helping Government to continue functioning normally,” said House of Assembly Speaker Mr Lovemore Moyo (MDC-T).

“Despite this fact, Parliament has failed to pay back for their services, which are constitutional. MPs continue to subsidise the Government as we have been unable to pay them their transport, subsistence and sitting allowances.

“As parliamentarians, we are fully aware of the difficult economic situation that the country is currently going through, but I will urge Govern-ment to look seriously into the matter.”