Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change yesterday threatened to use other means to raise money to pay civil servants if its rival Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front continued to block its proposals to raise the money from within the state sector.
In a statement, the party said it strongly supported calls for Zimbabwe to pay its public sector workers a decent salary commensurate with the cost of living and their desire for enhanced welfare.
“Our philosophy for a living wage is anchored on our background with its strong bias towards the poor. Our party was formed on two pillars: the trade union movement and the constitutional movement. ZANU-PF today cannot claim to be interested in workers issues by claiming that the Finance Ministry is refusing to increase salaries in the public sector,” the party said.
The inclusive government which comprises the MDC and ZANU-PF has been divided over civil servants salaries with Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is MDC secretary-general, saying the government has no money while ZANU-PF says the government should increase the salaries of the civil servants.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the MDC and former secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, has also said the salary of civil servants must be adjusted.
The government agreed to increase civil servants’ salaries at the beginning of this month with the lowest paid now earning $253 a month up from $128.
Tendai Chikowore, the chairwoman of Apex Council – an umbrella body representing government employees – said the council had agreed to the government offer, which brought the lowest paid civil servants “to 50 per cent of obtaining the poverty datum line of $502 dollars”.
The package is due for review in January.
The MDC said it was possible to increase salaries of civil servants through:
- a clear remittance of diamond revenues to treasury;
- accruals from an instant removal of 75 000 ghost workers from the state’s payroll;
- earnings from millions of dollars in police coffers earned through fines;
- a drastic cut-back of the run-away government foreign travel expenses;
- and revenue from all mining concessions which have yet to be deposited in the government account.
“As part of our non-negotiable contribution to a stable and prosperous Zimbabwe, the MDC calls on the government to effect these measures as a matter of extreme urgency to alleviate the plight of genuine civil servants,” the party said.
“The public sector has emerged a major victim of ZANU-PF’s political insincerity and dirty games for more than three decades. The situation cannot be left to deteriorate any further. The MDC shall move with utmost speed to ensure that the above measures are implemented to ensure public sector stability and uninterrupted service delivery.
“Should ZANU- PF continue to dabble in politics over human lives by blocking our proposals to raise money from within the state sector we reserve the right to invoke other contingency measures to make a respectable salary package for our civil servants a living reality,” the party said.
It did not elaborate on what these contingency measures were.