Press Statement by Lucia Matibenga, the Minister of Public Service
There has been a lot of confusion regarding the strike by civil servants pressing for better remuneration. As Minister of Public Service and a former trade unionist, I am aware of where the workers are coming from and that they deserve better remuneration.
The position is that there is no single Minister who takes an individual position on salaries and wages. Cabinet works as a collective and we have collective responsibility.
The position of the Cabinet Taskforce is the government position and it is that position that has been shared with the workers. As Minister of Public Service, my position is to make policy and not to negotiate with workers.
The employer of government workers is the Public Service Commission and not the Ministry of Public Service. The propaganda around the issue of civil servants’ salaries has sought to make me the face of the problem.
The workers’ representatives can confirm that they came to my office and they complained that the government had no position paper. Following my intervention and consultation with other Cabinet colleagues, the said position paper was eventually produced.
We met as an inter-ministerial advisory committee on 17th January 2012 and the discussion centred on expanding the fiscal space by finding alternative sources of revenue as well as ensuring that revenue from diamonds is accounted for.
It is pertinent to note that the issue of civil servants’ salaries is inextricably linked to transparency in revenue from diamonds as well as the ghost workers that were unearthed by auditors.
Finance Minister Hon Biti and myself went to brief the Acting President, Hon. John Nkomo on the status of negotiations and the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
I am hopeful that the negotiations will proceed and that an amicable solution will be found to alleviate the plight of the civil servant.
I spent decades as a trade unionist and I fully understand the plight of civil servants. It is the height of dishonesty to portray the Public Service Minister as the face of the problem when the real key issues about civil servants’ salaries include the opaque nature of diamond revenue and the implementation of the public service audit which found, among other irregularities, 75 000 irregularly employed workers.
Lastly, I would like to applaud the patriotic civil servants who have braved through the years and I hope an amicable solution will be found soon.
Hon. Lucia Matibenga, Minister of Public Service