Thursday 18 August 2022


FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has dismissed claims that civil servants were underpaid, insisting that their salaries were above the poverty datum line (PDL).

Addressing Parliament on Wednesday where he was grilled over civil servants’ low salaries, Ncube said 53% of the country’s budget was being spent on government employees’ salaries, adding that this was evidence that the State was concerned about the welfare of its workers.

“So we have responded to that and there is a misnomer or rather a misleading contribution from some of the honourable members who ignore the US$175 that we are paying to civil servants and only focus on the Zimbabwe dollar question,” Ncube said.

“If you include the US$175 per month, the average earnings for civil servants come to US$297 at the current exchange rate, which is in line with the PDL of July which is at US$285. So it is perfectly in line with the PDL for July, 2022,” he added.

Civil servants are earning an average $50 000 per month.

Ncube’s statement was, however, roundly condemned as insensitive by labour unions.

Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (ZimStat) statistics show that the PDL as of July stood at $140 000 on the back of rising inflation and skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services.

The official exchange rate stands at $494 to US$1 and anything between $750 and $850 on the parallel market.

Civil servants have been engaging on on-off job protests demanding pre-October 2018 United States (US) dollar salaries of US$540, saying runaway inflation at 257% as of July had pushed them into poverty.

Early this month, government said it would consider increasing the US dollar component paid to public workers in September, and also review the portion paid in local currency.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) secretary-general Goodwill Taderera expressed outrage over Ncube’s statement on civil servants salaries.

“Government is taking advantage of us. They (authorities) are taking advantage of our understanding. They themselves do not get the kind of money they are giving us. The PDL is not a living wage,” Taderera said.

“Ncube saying our salaries are above the PDL is not fair on us civil servants. When we talk of salaries, we should not compare them with the PDL.  When we talk of salaries, we are talking of a living wage. We talk about what is happening on the ground, not just talking about figures from nowhere.

“As far as we are concerned as Zimta, we are receiving less than the poverty datum line. We are supposed to be getting around US$804.”

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo said Ncube was out of touch with reality.

“If we make a comparison with the 2018 salaries, one will wonder how he is arriving at his statement of saying civil servants salaries are above the datum line,” Moyo told NewsDay.

“His remarks show that he is not aware of the explanation that was given to the employer. This is due to the fact that he does not attend the meetings. He is completely out of touch with reality.”  Newsday


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