Broke Zimbabwe Government Delays Teachers’ October Pay , Promises to Pay in November

Unions claim pay discriminations as ZRP, army paid first

More equal than other State workers … President Mugabe and his Generals

CIVIL servants are up in arms with government which continues to prioritise the payment of members of the security forces, leaving the rest to incur penalty charges for failing to honour loan repayments on time due to continued salary delays by their employer.

The cash strapped Zimbabwean government on Wednesday announced pay dates for civil servants which will see members of the army paid their October salaries this Friday, health workers receiving theirs October 25 while the police and prison officials are set to receive theirs October 28.

Teachers will get paid November 3 while the rest of the civil service get theirs November 8.

But civil servants’ groups said Thursday the continued late payment of some government workers exposed them to interest charges on loan payments and property acquired through hire purchase.

Cecilia Alexander, who chairs the Apex Council, the civil servants’ main negotiating arm, told it was time all the civil servants felt the burden teachers were being made to suffer through salary delays.

“Members especially from the education sector and rest of the civil service continue carrying the burden whereby their monthly budgets are affected,” she said.

“For the past five months or so, they have continued to suffer some interest on loans because they are the sectors getting their salaries late.

National problem

“We will continue to press government so that if there are any salary delays, everybody should carry the burden, not them to suffer alone.”

She continued: “It should not only be the education sector and the rest of the civil service that receive their salaries in the other month.

“This is a national problem and it’s not being shared because you find that those in the army, in the police are not suffering those interests; so what we are saying is that government has not treated those in the education sector and those in the rest of the service fairly.

“We have adopted the idea of exhausting all the channels before we take action, before we use power.”

 Alexander said instead of pushing pay dates to the following month, government should bring salary dates forward.

Pay discrimination

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Ptuz) president, Takavafira Zhou also spoke tough about alleged pay discrimination.

“The issue of prioritising the army is unfortunate because it creates an impression that the government is afraid of those who are wielding guns and I don’t know whether the government also wants teachers to carry guns so that they would be paid first,” he said.

Zhou said teachers used to get their salaries ahead of all civil servants but this was changed to give the army first priority.

Government has previously told civil servants during salary negotiations that it was paying security forces first because the State workforce was too big to manage at the same time.

December pay worry

The Zanu PF-led administration has reportedly told teachers they constituted nearly two thirds of the entire government workforce and paying them later than the rest was intended to facilitate mobilisation of resources for their salaries.

 However, Zhou said with the current situation, teachers feared they may be made to spend yet another dry Christmas period as it becomes clear that government may not be able to pay December salaries on time again.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu, said the country’s largest teachers’ union was not happy their employer failed to keep its promise to end the pay delay crisis within three months from its onset earlier this year.

“We don’t feel encouraged and feel that their promise to pay us on time will not be fulfilled after all and as far as we are concerned now, there are fears that the government could be running itself aground and it’s likely that we may one day find ourselves with no salaries at all,” he said.

Pay delays for civil servants now gobble 97 percent of the national budget, according to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

The recurrent pay crisis is attributed to the ever shrinking tax base, government’s only cash cow at the moment, due to the closure of companies.

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