By Blessed Mhlanga
Teachers and civil servants have scoffed at an announcement by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube that his austerity measures will result in civil servants getting a bonus before year-end, saying his statement was an insult.
Using his social media account, Ncube made the announcement on bonuses.
“Civil servants to get bonus thanks to austerity: Mthuli,” he announced on social media without giving details.
The statement, however, attracted scorn from Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PUTZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe, who said the minister should stop propagating falsehoods.
“For the past 38 years, civil servants have been getting a bonus save for just one year.
“To want to make the nation believe that we are getting a bonus because of austerity is not only misleading, but dangerous. He wants us to glorify a tool that is behind our suffering, as if we have ever failed to get a bonus,” Majongwe told NewsDay.
The PTUZ said given the poor salaries the civil service was getting and the price increases which always jump every time civil servants are awarded salary increases, the bonus will be a curse for many.
“What bonus? That statement by the minister is an understatement. In fact, for us, it’s going to be the reason of our suffering. It’s a punishment. That bonus is a curse.
“It will worsen our plight because every service provider will be increasing prices tracking the bonus that will be paid and the civil servants will be worse off,” Majongwe said.
Former Finance minister and MDC deputy president, Tendai Biti, said Ncube needed a mental medical examination to determine his state of mind.
“The Professor is mad. He needs mental examination. He can’t say thanks to austerity he will be paying bonus when civil servants were actually getting bonuses all along,” Biti said.
He added that the bonus payments would amount to nothing for the long suffering workers in Zimbabwe.
“There is no bonus as long as he is paying them in devalued local currency. It’s nothing. If you add nothing to nothing, you get nothing. The only way to adequately compensate workers is to pay them in US dollar. You can’t pay people inflation,” Biti said.
“The salaries of civil servants has been devalued by over 90%, thanks to runaway exchange rate, runaway inflation. The only way is to go back to the multi-currency regime.
“We need to close the RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) because all they have been doing is printing money, generating money supply without productivity, thereby fuelling inflation.”
Said Information secretary Nick Mangwana: “To alleviate the current challenges faced by civil servants, the bonus will be calculated on the total package that is including allowances. Bonuses will be paid in November and December.” NewsDay