Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has resolved to pay civil servants full bonuses for 2019 pegged on gross income, a departure from last year when the 13th cheque was based on pensionable salaries only.
In an interview yesterday, Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said all civil servants were this year going to receive their bonuses inclusive of allowances.
Last year civil servants expressed anger after they were paid a bonus which only reflected the basic salary without allowances being factored into the payments.
“We applaud Government for reverting to the old system. During our last meeting which was held on the 14th of October, Government made a commitment to pay civil servants full bonuses calculated on their total income inclusive of allowances such as housing and transport allowances. This is a great step that shows that engagement has been fruitful,” said Mrs Alexander.
Government has been negotiating with civil servants through their umbrella body, the Joint Negotiation Council, for a review of conditions of service after their salaries were eroded by inflation.
The Apex Council says the 76 percent cost of living adjustment (Cola) negotiated last month has been wiped off by inflation.
The 100 percent bonus will therefore come in handy.
Mrs Alexander said while they welcomed the bonus, Government had not yet availed pay dates for the 13th cheque adding that talks are still underway to decide on a salary increment as incomes had been eroded.
She said if bonuses are paid on the current salaries, that would not alleviate civil servants’ plight as the cost of living had incapacitated most of them.
“While we applaud Government for reverting to the old system, calculating bonuses on 100 percent of total package will still have not addressed the problem at hand because salaries have been eroded and prices are soaring, especially as we are approaching the festive season. We therefore urge civil servants to keep their ears to the ground as we are awaiting favourable outcomes from engagements with Government. Government has not yet come back to us since our last engagement,” Mrs Alexander said.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday said Government has done well to revert to the old system of paying full bonuses.
He said the issue of salaries must be addressed now to ensure that the bonus will make a difference.
“We need a pay rise on the basis of the obtaining situation in the country. Educators are now incapacitated and are unable to effectively deliver lessons to learners. So whatever pay rise comes must be in the context of the situation that we are in,” said Mr Ndlovu.
In an interview yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Lovemore Matuke, urged civil servants to negotiate in good faith as Government had their best interests at heart.
Cde Matuke said plans were at an advanced stage to have cheaper basic commodities on sale in order to cushion everyone, especially civil servants, from business people who continue to hike prices.
“As much as we can fight over the salary issue and hike it as many times as possible, it will not stop the price madness that has seen prices soaring. This scourge continues to erode incomes. As Government, our focus now is on addressing the rampant price increases and not the issue of increasing salaries per se,” he said.
Cde Matuke said President Mnangagwa understood the plight of the people but would not reintroduce price controls as they would drive products off the shelves.
“The President cannot put price control measures as this will make commodities disappear from the shelves in shops. However, we surely can bring cheaper stuff so that this madness can be controlled,” he said.
Earlier this week, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said Government was keen to continue engaging the National Joint Negotiation Council (NJNC) to discuss civil servants’ welfare.
“A number of consultations with the Apex Council through the NJNC have to take place,” she said. “Once a figure has been agreed upon, we then seek Treasury concurrence.
“The price hikes continue to affect the purchasing power. I am hoping that the bonuses will help ease the burden of rising costs, especially of basic commodities.” — @andile_tshuma.