Editorial Comment: Civil servants shouldn’t be jittery

The hallmark of good leadership is the ability to communicate with the people whenever a crisis arises, and Government should be lauded for keeping discussions on civil servants bonuses open.

Regular updates have been given over the past few weeks as regards which sector within the civil service will be getting their bonus payments and when that would be happening.

It has been open about its cashflow challenges, but has remained resolute that despite the slowdown, bonuses will be coming and surely, it has stuck to its word.

Coming against a backdrop of sanctions-induced hardships that have caused the closure of many industries, in the process shrinking the Government’s revenue base, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, should be saluted in the manner with which he handled civil servants bonus issue.

Government is confronted by a situation where the bulk of its revenue collected from various sources goes to the civil service wage bill and very little is spared for capital projects and development.

We, therefore, urge our civil servants to be patient with their employer given the fluid environment we are operating in, where the majority of the companies are operating at below 20 percent capacity utilisation.

Given that Government has many obligations to balance the rope, we urge civil servants not to create more pressure on their employer by going on strike over bonuses given that commitment has already been made to pay them in full. We want to commend the nurses for announcing last week that they were no longer going to down tools after Government said it would start paying the bonuses this Wednesday until all outstanding payments are cleared by month end.

Surely, if an employer makes such a written undertaking to pay, we expect the employees to sympathise with the situation and heed the call not to strike. Civil servants in Zimbabwe have been earning far below their counterparts in the region and those patriotic ones who remained in the employ of Government as their colleagues left the country for greener pastures should be accorded the respect they deserve.

We know they could have amassed a lot of fortune had they left the country, but that patriotism they demonstrated need to be jealously guarded. After having sacrificed that much when the country endured a decade long painful sanctions-induced hardships, the civil servants should not damage that colourful reputation they have earned over years.

Our Finance and Economic Development Minister is a man of his word and since November last year he has been clear that the staggering of bonus payments was necessitated by challenges encountered in mobilising money from Government’s traditional sources.

Civil servants should not despair because after receiving their bonuses this month, their pay dates schedules for January salaries remain unchanged as Government has already made arrangements to ensure pay days are not affected. Government has already paid bonuses to the uniformed forces and the education sector, and this alone means no Government employee will go home empty handed by end of the month.

Nurses, who constitute about 75 percent of the health service employees, threatened to strike over bonus if there was no written communication by Government on when they would be paid last Friday. We, therefore, say after this commitment by Government, surely there is no reason why Government workers should be jittery.

The commitment made by Government should be commended. In this instance it has really led from the front.