BY XOLISANI NCUBE
GOVERNMENT yesterday agreed to extend the $400 cushioning allowance to all civil servants at a meeting with the Apex Council.
“The government brought different offers which ranged from 25% of total earnings of a civil servant to 50% of the same, which we vehemently rejected as it fell too short to address the incapacitation faced by the civil servants,” the Apex Council said in a statement last night.
“Through further negotiations and dialogue, we have achieved to make the government pay each and every civil servant the sum of $400 as a once-off payment together with the salary of July regardless of one’s grade.”
Talks on cost of living adjustment are still on-going.
On Wednesday, opposition MPs took to task Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister Lovemore Matuke on allegations that government awarded an over $400 cushion allowance to soldiers while offering other civil servants $97.
Marondera Central MP Caston Matewu (MDC) led the MPs in grilling Matuke why government had paid members of the military over $400 when other civil servants got a pittance.
“What is the government policy in relation to the remuneration of civil servants cushioning allowances, noting the considerable differences across the civil service, for example, the military getting a cushioning allowance of $400 while the rest of the civil service have to do with only $97,” he said.
But Matuke said he was not aware how much members of the military were given.
He said negotiations were still in progress to come up with a figure that would be allocated to the civil servants.
“So, we hope that by the end of the week or early next week, we will come up with a figure so that people can come up with the comparison if there is anything to compare. Thank you so much,” Matuke said.
His response attracted further questions from MPs, with Prosper Mutseyami asking why soldiers were paid when other civil servant were still in talks with government.
“I do not know where my colleague is getting that information. What I am saying here is that the negotiations are still on and the ZW$90 which the member is trying to put across in this house is not yet official. So, what we are simply saying is that let us wait until the conclusion on the negotiating table,” Matuke responded.
Innocent Gonese followed through with his question, asking Matuke to either confirm or refute allegations that the army was paid $400.
“Madam Speaker, the honourable member has no documentary evidence to what he is saying. What I can only say in this House is, if the honourable member feels that they were given ZW$400 without any proof, then I am not in a position to know those issues,” Matuke said.
The Labour deputy minister said government was also still in talks for a cushioning allowance for pensioners because their salaries, just like civil servants’, had been eroded by inflation.
“The cushioning allowance for pensioners is still under discussion and the amount that they will be given will be determined by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. In fact, the point we are trying to stress here is that whatever payment that will be paid to the civil servants will be worked in relation (to) our current budget,” Matuke said.
“Yes, I agree with you Madam Speaker that there is need to increase the salaries for civil servants, but as you know, there is a discussion between the employee and our ministry to try and establish the proper figures.” NewsDay