Sunday, 17 July 2016

BROKE GOVT SWEATS OVER CIVIL SERVANTS PAY

Zimbabwe's broke government has no money to pay civil servants this month.

Well-placed government sources told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that authorities were frantically “trying to stitch together a few pennies” to pay civil servants, but without much success.

“Government wants to pay its workers like yesterday, but there is no money. This economic squeeze, manifested recently by the cash crisis is real and worsening.
“My view is also that this will be a very long-term challenge that all Zimbabweans ought to be prepared for,” one of the sources said.

While soldiers are usually paid on the 14th of every month, military personnel who were hoping to be paid early this month were left bitterly disappointed on Thursday and Friday when they checked with their banks for their money — and to make matters worse, they were also not told when they would receive their remuneration.

It was feared that the delays could fuel political tensions in the country which has recently been rocked by growing citizen unrest, demonstrations and violent riots.

“The mood is sour among the rank and file. Life is tough and we are not being told by our superiors whether we will be paid this month or not,” a soldier told news agency Reuters at the weekend.

Efforts to get comments from both Treasury and the military were unsuccessful yesterday.
But Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira told the Daily News on Sunday that the government was set to announce this month’s pay dates for civil servants soon.

“We will issue a statement shortly,” she said, while Apex Council president, Cecilia Alexander, said she could not comment at the moment.

But Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) president, Richard Gundani, said the delay by the government to state their position on the pending salaries was “causing a lot of anxiety” among civil servants.

“When we held our meeting with government, they could not reveal pay dates but said they would announce them late last week or early this week, so we are still waiting to see when they will announce them.

“But as it is, the government has not finished paying last month’s money for pensioners, which is expected to be paid on the 19th. Clearly, therefore, there is worry and it would help if the government effectively and timeously made the announcement,” Gundani said.

There was a two-week delay in the June pay check for the military, a central security pillar throughout President Robert Mugabe’s 36 years in charge of Zimbabwe.

Without balance of payment support and foreign credit, the government is desperately seeking to clear $1,8 billion arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank and the World Bank, in a bid to unlock new funding.

But the IMF said on Thursday that it was still far from agreeing a financial programme with Mugabe’s government, which would need to resolve issues of governance, accountability, transparency and carry out economic reforms before receiving any cash.

Last week, a stay-away protest movement led by activist pastor Evan Mawarire shut down most businesses, government offices, schools and hospitals in the biggest act of public defiance in a decade.

Mawarire, who rallied followers under his #ThisFlag Twitter hashtag, was arrested last week and formally accused of treason but was freed on Wednesday when a magistrate threw out the charges. Daily news

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