The government’s wage bill gobbles up 90 percent of its total revenue and payments for the 2016 bonus are likely to worsen the budget deficit for this year, initially estimated at $400 million.
“The demands that we brought are still up for discussion but the issue that we were clamouring for, which is cash payment for the (2016) bonus has been accepted,” said Raymond Majongwe — who leads a teachers union — in a video posted on his Twitter handle.
“They (government) should have paid us last year. The government has an obligation to pay us our bonuses, we are not happy about the delay. We are going to communicate with our members to finalise the way forward,” he said.
At the weekend, the state also gave in to most of the demands of health workers.
Doctors went on strike on February 15 to press for more pay and in protest against poor working conditions.
Their strike was last week joined by nurses at public hospitals, who walked out of work to push for 2016 bonus payments and to push for improved working conditions.
Zimbabwe currently has about $2.1 billion worth of treasury bills in the market, issued to bridge the government’s funding gap and clear the central bank’s debt and analysts said the state is likely to again dip into the local market to pay for the bonuses.
“Government is settling obligations by creating even bigger obligations. But the effect of such mindless borrowing will only be felt in three to five years time,” an economist said.
Government has been keen to avoid a strike by its workers after such action last July prompted the biggest protest against Mugabe’s rule when it was complimented by grassroots protest groups using social media to organise a successful nationwide shutdown.
Mugabe, who last week flew to Singapore for what his officials said was a ‘routine medical visit,’ made a brief stopover in Harare yesterday on his way to Accra, Ghana for that country’s 60th independence anniversary celebrations.- The Source