Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GOVERNMENT has said civil servants will be paid more cushioning allowances this year as its employees yesterday started receiving their promised payments for this month.
Government this week released $300 million to pay civil servants cushioning allowances as part of its pledge to improve their welfare.
In an interview yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Clemence Chiduwa said Government will pay more of such allowances to its workers during the course of this year.
“I can confirm that the civil servants have started receiving their cushioning allowances. As things stand we are expecting to give them two or three more cushioning allowances throughout the year as we work on finding lasting solutions to improve their conditions of service. We can’t give full amounts at once given the challenges being faced by the Government but the bottom line is we have to look out for our employees and improve their conditions of service,” he said.
Deputy Minister Chiduwa commended civil servants for reporting for duty in the wake of threats of industrial action by some elements.
“From the Government side and as Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, we are happy that the civil servants continue reporting for duty and working very hard considering the difficult economic conditions they are facing. As the Ministry of Finance, we don’t have enough funds at the moment but we are committed to improving the working conditions of the civil servants as evidenced by the release of cushioning allowances which they started receiving this week,” he said.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association president and Apex Council team leader Mr Richard Gundani confirmed that teachers received allowances of between $700 and $800 yesterday.
He said they want the exact salaries that they were being paid in United States dollars to be converted into the local currency at the interbank rate.
“Yes, teachers received their cushioning allowances with other civil servants but what we want is transition from the United States dollar salary to a Zimbabwe dollar based salary at the interbank rate and we will continue engaging our employer for that,” said Mr Gundani.
He said it is vital for Government and the Apex Council to continue engaging in negotiations so that civil servants continue reporting for duty.
Civil servants in Gweru yesterday commended Government for paying them the cushioning allowances which they said were coming at the right time when they were dealing with challenges associated with “back to school.”
“I am a teacher in town and I have just withdrawn my money from my bank. It will cover a bit of my needs and we pray that Government continues to remember us so that we are not incapacitated,” said Mrs Vongai Masuwe.
Earlier this week, Finance and Economic Development Ministry permanent secretary Mr George Guvamatanga told this publication that the New Dispensation should be given credit for meeting its financial obligations.
On Monday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government was seized with addressing the issue of salaries for civil servants.
Government last week offered civil servants a 76 percent pay increase that will result in the least paid worker taking home $2 033, up from $1 023 per month and paid $750 this week as a cushioning allowance for January.
Civil servants however rejected the offer demanding to be paid an equivalent of US$475 for the lowest-paid worker.
Addressing journalists, Prof Ncube said Government had other pressing issues that also required equal attention. He said the issues included ensuring national food security, power generation, job creation and stabilising the local currency.