Robert Mugabe’s crumbling regime which approved a hefty salary hike for striking teachers two weeks ago failed to pay the new salaries as civil servants got their pay on Wednesday.
from our correspondent in Harare
Mugabe, who is fighting to return his presidency announced at a rally in Matabeleland North province that he had personally authorised the massive pay out to teachers and other civil servants.
This was a panic response after teachers went on strike mid February protesting against low salaries.
A day after he made the announcement prices of goods skyrocketed. A loaf of bread now costs $11 million up from $5 million.
However, when teachers went to their banks, they where shocked to realise that their usually empty bank accounts reflected their old salaries.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said teachers were shocked to discover that government had paid old salaries instead of the promised windfall.
Majongwe said: “After the announcement of a new salary structure by government, teachers were expecting a salary increment this payday. Teachers are crying foul. They did not get the promised salaries.”
The PTUZ leader said after urgent consultations they had been told that the Public Service Commission (PSC) — which employs all civil servants — was making frantic efforts to make sure that the new salaries are paid before the end of the month.
Majongwe said: “I have phoned the commission and a senior official there has told us that the government did not have the money to pay the new salaries this Wednesday. The official said efforts are being made to pay the new salaries before end of month.”
The Zimbabwean government, visibly broke and struggling to turn back an unprecedented economic slide, had promised junior teachers a gross salary of $3.9 billion, and senior teachers were expecting to be paid $5 billion.
Government sources said Mugabe, under pressure to pacify civil servants ahead of crucial elections on March 29, agreed to their demands for huge salary increases although his government does not have the money.
Mugabe has instructed central bank governor Gideon Gono to print trillions of dollars to finance the inflated salary bill for government workers, but the Reserve Bank’s printing presses are struggling to match up with the demand for banknotes.
The sources, who are senior figures at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), said the government ordered the central bank to provide $166 trillion to quell a teachers’ strike for more pay that was threatening to spread to include other equally disgruntled state workers and in the process overshadow the government’s campaign to remain in office.
The failure by government to pay teachers on time might negatively affect the elections.
The bulk of the people who will conduct the elections are teachers and they have vowed not to report for duty untill they are fully paid.