Government wage bill balloons six-fold in six years


The government’s wage bill has ballooned almost six-fold since dollarisation in 2009 from $381 million to $2.2 billion.

According to The Herald, the government argues in a position paper to the civil service unions that it is unable to to increase salaries for civil servants because it has to keep the country functional.

 “Our struggling economy cannot sustain the current high salary budget. A paradigm shift is required if this country is to come out of the woods,” the government argues.

“The main reason behind the rapid growth of the wage bill has been wage reviews and progressive increases in employment numbers and additional ministries in particular during the period of the Government of National Unity.”

The inclusive government was abandoned nearly two years ago, which implies that the wage bill should have declined in 2014 and 2015 unless this was offset by wage increases.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has been battling to raise salaries for civil servants and even suggested cancelling their annual bonus this year but was overruled by President Robert Mugabe who argued that it was now their right.

One of the biggest problems has been establishing the size of the civil service. One estimate has even put the number at over 500 000.

An audit of the civil service was carried out during the inclusive government but its results were never released to the public.

Former Movement for Democratic Change-T secretary-general, Tendai Biti, who was Finance Minister at the time said there were about 75 000 ghost workers in the civil service.

When the country adopted the United States dollar in 2009, civil servants were paid an allowance of $100 a month. The lowest paid civil servant today earns $375, less than a four-fold increase, which begs the question: who is getting the bulk of the money that has resulted in the bill ballooning six-fold?


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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