Eric Chiriga/Grace Kombora
CIVIL servants are reeling under a myriad problems after the government ruled out an increase in their salaries in the mid-term fiscal policy review. Many civi
l servants currently earn less than $5 million with teachers taking home about $3,5 million.
The Minister of Finance, Herbert Murerwa, deferred public service salary reviews to next year’s budget saying a salary increase would put additional pressure on the fiscus.
Civil servants were last awarded a salary increase of 600% in December last year. Then, the lowest-paid civil servant earned a gross monthly salary of $1,4 million up from $240 000.
The salaries of the highest-paid civil servants, at the level of directors, rose to $10 million per month including transport allowances.
However, these increases have been completely eroded by inflation, which was hovering at more than 600% last year. Inflation declined from 600% to as low as 123% but is again on an upward trend.
The latest figures released by the Central Statistical Office revealed that the inflation rate is now 254,8%.
An average family monthly expenditure was put at $6,1 million by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) based on a monthly survey of food prices.
A source in the Ministry of Education said that workers were on go-slow a salary increase with immediate effect.
“Workers are on go-slow at the moment and we wonder if teachers will go back to work at the opening of the second term,” the source said.
The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe is demanding a 150% cost of living adjustment, 100% increase in transport allowance and a 200% increase in housing allowance.
Maxwell Kaitano, the acting president for the Public Service Association, last week told the Zimbabwe Independent that negotiations on the salary increments were under way.
He could not disclose the proceedings of the negotiations.
“We are still discussing and the results will be out soon but I am not at liberty to disclose more information at the moment,” Kaitano said.
Zesa employees last week threatened to go on strike demanding a 200% increment.
The effects of the high inflation are not peculiar to the civil servants.Workers in the private sector are also demanding salary adjustments in line with the rising inflation. Bankers are demanding a 200% salary increment.
FBC Holdings Ltd this week confirmed that they were awarding their workers a 132% salary increase.
“We are going to give them a 132,5% salary increment and it is well within our budget,” Livingstone Gwata, the chief executive of FBC, said.
However, economic analyst John Robertson said this was not the right situation to keep wages frozen, when inflation was more than 200% and was bound to double by the end of the year. He said the freezing of civil servants’ salaries would cause massive unrest and threaten security.
“The inflation rate could easily double. And Gideon Gono’s targets, particularly inflation, are no longer attainable,” Robertson said.
Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said that civil servants and the private sector should converge on their views in terms of the poverty levels in the country.
He said Zimbabweans have become poorer than ever before.
Matombo said the percentage salary increases should be applied on a pro rata basis after every worker’s salary has been increased to match the poverty datum line of $6,1 million per month.
“By announcing that there will be no salary increase for civil servants, Murerwa indirectly meant that salaries of private sector employees should also not be increased since they use increments awarded by in the public service as the benchmark,” Matombo said.
He said the outcome of the negotiations would never match with the inflation rate.
The government last year allocated $11,9 trillion for the public service employment costs with a view to improve working conditions in the civil service.