Editorial Comment: Govt’s $41 pay rise offer a mockery

THE 10% salary increment government offered to civil servants is ludicrous, unfortunate and shows that government does not consider its workers a key component in its transformation.

Editorial Comment

Whether Treasury does not have ways to raise enough cash to cushion government workers or not, we believe that more needs to be done to boost morale among the thousands of government workers who have toiled for so long to get their employer to deliver a service to its suffering citizenry.

Why government decided to repay the civil servants by offering worse than peanuts is beyond comprehension. Does this inspire confidence to the citizens and the outside world keen to do business with Harare?

It boggles the mind how the brains behind the Vincent Hungwe-led Civil Service Commission, Cabinet ministers and top government officials could come up with such an offer.

The decision to relegate the working majority to penury could explain why government does not seem to care about the arbitrary price increases of basic commodities, cash crisis, foreign currency shortages and fuel crisis, among other economic ills.

No doubt, a job boycott is looming, as civil servants haggle with government over salary adjustments in a clear indication that all is not well in Rome.

This is despite the fact that medical doctors have finally returned to work after a long-running job action that paralysed operations in the public health sector; this after the salary negotiations between the government and civil servants, who were offered a paltry 10% pay rise, collapsed amid indications that they could embark on industrial action next week. It is an open secret that the cost of living of ordinary people has been on a steep rise and their earnings have been significantly eroded.

It is quite clear that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime has no capacity to deal with this problem, hence they need all stakeholders. This could include the opposition, which enjoys a modicum of international goodwill, to join hands and work together to improve the economy, which is currently in free-fall.

Matters were always going to come to a head at the rate at which things are going, and there is no alternative, but to confront the problem head-on. This calls for unity of purpose. If our political leaders, indeed, had the interests of the people at heart, then they have no option, but come to the table and thrash out a deal that will usher the country out of its current economic logjam.

How on earth the government will insist on the unrealistic 1:1 parity between the United States dollar and the surrogate bond note is anyone’s guess.
Yet, the situation on the ground offers a different reality and against that backdrop, civil servants’ demands for a minimum wage of $1 733 for the least paid civil servant make sense.

The majority of civil servants earn money that is not even enough to send one child to a decent school, and this is the reality that our political leaders must be seized with if they are sincere.

Right now, ordinary people using public transport require a minimum of $10 per day to and from work when their salaries are only sufficient perhaps for those who use just $1. Against this backdrop, the government offer of a 10% pay rise, which translates to only $41 for the least paid civil servant, is a mockery.

What is quite clear is that unless the Zanu PF regime strikes some kind of workable deal with the opposition, the situation will either continue to deteriorate, or will be resolved just temporarily if not addressed from its roots.