THE government last week deposited huge amounts of money in civil servantsâ€™ bank accounts in what appears to be an attempt to buy votes ahead of the presidential election run-off legally expected to take place on or before May 23 pitting President Robert Mugabe and the MDCâ€™s Morgan Tsvangirai.
The civil servants, among them teachers, headmasters and nurses, each got a deposit of $5,4 billion irrespective of their grades and positions in government.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) claimed the deposits were part of Zanu PFâ€™s vote-buying exercise. The union said the amount deposited fell far short of what teachers were demanding from the government.
“It is true that the deposits were met with joy by civil servants,” the PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe. “However, the truth of the matter is that we are now demanding $18 billion for a teacher fresh from college.”
The latest salary increment for civil servants comes barely two months after Mugabeâ€™s government hiked their salaries just before the harmonised elections.
Teachers in Bulawayo confirmed the salary increment and said everyone, irrespective of grades and experience in the teaching service, got the $5,4 billion deposits in their accounts.
“The salary increment were not planned as I got the same amount given to headmasters and teachers and this shows that this was something not planned properly,” said a teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A source working with one bank in the city said all civil servants seem to have received the same amount save for the uniformed forces who received their salaries earlier than teachers.
The government has in the past increased civil servant salaries before crucial elections in a bid to buy votes.
The latest move to award civil servants a salary increment comes at a time when Mugabe is believed to have lost the March 29 presidential election to Tsvangirai.
Meanwhile, most schools opened without teachers in Matabeleland provinces, as most of them were believed to have left for South Africa.
Majongwe said the number of teachers who did not report for school was shocking.
“Teachers have left the country while some who were polling and presiding officers fled accusations of tampering with election results. At the moment you find a school looking for between 10 and 20 teachers while in some schools there are no teachers at all,” said Majongwe.
By Loughty Dube