Harare – Most of Zimbabwe’s civil servants went into Christmas without their December pay, and the treasury failed to honour President Robert Mugabe’s pledge that all public sector employees would get a bonus or 13th cheque this year.
The majority of civil servants were not paid before Christmas and no bonuses have yet been paid. According to some sources in Harare, security sector employees, including those in the army, were paid this month’s salary just before the Christmas break but had not received their bonuses.
Some lecturers in tertiary institutions say they have not yet received their November pay.
But teachers, the largest sector in the public service, say they have received neither salary nor bonus.
A long-serving teacher in Chitungwiza, near Harare, said: “I am not sure when we will be paid. We are going to have a very miserable Christmas.”
Insiders in the civil service estimate that about 500 000 public servants were without pay on Christmas Eve.
Zimbabwe’s enormous civil servants’ wage bill consumes more then 80 percent of GDP. More than two-thirds of civil servants receive about R7 500 a month but have much higher living costs than South Africans as the economy operates in US dollars.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said: “Our government is insensitive and most people will not be able to enjoy Christmas with their families.
“We are not even sure whether the government will be able to pay salaries even after Christmas, as per their promise.”
Several senior civil servants told New Zimbabwe.com that members of Mugabe’s enormous cabinet were able to spend Christmas with their families, as the government provided them with fuel and vehicles.
In April, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the bonus would be suspended for two years because the economy was struggling but quickly apologised for a “procedural mistake” when Mugabe contradicted him, in public, saying: “The cabinet did not approve that at all. We say that is disgusting to us and it will never, never be implemented at all. So your bonuses will come to you.”
Some, but not all, retired civil servants received their small November R1 000 pension last week.
In a brief statement, which surfaced only on Christmas Day, the treasury said teachers’ salaries would be paid on Tuesday.
“The minister of finance and economic development also announced the postponement of pay dates for the rest of the public service from December 29 to January 5, 2016.”
But the traditional annual bonus would not be paid to any civil servants at this stage.
Independent Foreign Services