By Veneranda Langa
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and his Labour ministry counterpart Sekai Nzenza are in a quandary as civil servants yesterday declared a massive demonstration next Wednesday over unfulfilled promises by government.
The Apex Council leadership said yesterday they have had enough of unfulfilled promises by government on salary demands.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s broke government has repeatedly said it could not afford the demand while the International Monetary Fund warned that a civil servants’ salary hike would trigger inflation.
Apex Council organising secretary Charles Chinosengwa told NewsDay that the workers’ body had already given notice to the police of the strike, where they also expect all 16 civil service unions, including the health professions to join in.
Currently, Ncube is in Victoria Falls where he is discussing 2020 budget proposals with legislators and other stakeholders.
The civil servants plan to march to his offices on Wednesday next week.
Chinosengwa said civil servants now want the lowest paid to be remunerated US$475 equivalent at the prevailing intermarket bank rate in the face of the spiralling cost of living, where the bread basket for a family of six is now pegged at $4 000.
“The Apex Council met yesterday (Wednesday) and the main agenda was to discuss on lack of feedback by government on our demands, whereby the employer promised to come back to us within two weeks, but there has been no response,” he said.
“We met with different civil servants’ unions to discuss the issue of incapacitation and we were not amused that the Finance minister (Ncube) went to the Press to announce that we, civil servants, will get cost of living adjustments — which we have not yet got, but immediately after his statement prices of basic commodities began to shoot up.
“Yesterday, we then wrote to his counterpart the Minister of Labour Nzenza telling her that it is now two weeks after they said they will commit to our salary adjustments. As a result, Apex Council has resolved to engage in a demonstration next Wednesday in Harare, which will include all civil servants, and right now, we are in the process of notifying the police.”
Chinosengwa said the demonstrators will gather at Public Service House and then march to Ncube’s Finance ministry offices with a petition.
“We want them to adjust our salaries to the interbank rate so that they are in tandem with the October 2017 salaries of US$475 for the lowest paid worker. The reason why we are demanding rating of salaries with the interbank rate is because the food bread basket has gone up to $4 000 for a family of six,” he said.
“We have given notice to all 16 civil servants’ unions to join us. We are also planning to invite the Health Apex to also join us in the demonstration.”
The Apex Council organising secretary said civil servants were struggling and heavily indebted as they were borrowing money to report to work.
He said if government does not heed their call, then they will embark on weekly demonstrations or sit-ins.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said he hoped that the demonstration by the Apex Council was a sincere move.
“We were not part of the meeting, but all along, we believed that the Apex Council is part of the problem and if there are going to be demonstrations, then we say ‘welcome to our world’ to them.
Ours had been incapacitation, whereby our members are currently on strike and reporting to work only two days in a week, on Monday and Friday with effect from October 21,” he said.
“All along, we were trying to extend our hands to our colleagues the Apex Council and Zimta [Zimbabwe Teachers Association], but now we welcome them and we hope they are sincere and that they are not being sent by government to disturb the process that we had already begun.”
Zhou said the PTUZ perceived demonstrations as useless and they favoured stayaways as there will be no services rendered.
“We want real action. This government will not listen to demonstrations and petitions. It is just firefighting and buying time. There is need for action for government to take action,” he said.