Zimbabwe: Civil servants get salary hikes

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Civil Servants in Zimbabwe, the bulk being teachers, will from Monday
start receiving proper salaries instead of allowances as the bankrupt inclusive government said its revenue inflows were improving.

The salary hike was made possible after Finance Minister Tendai Biti allocated US$151 million for civil service salaries during his mid-term fiscal policy review last Thursday. To ensure a healthy workforce, government also said it will start paying medical aid for civil servants.

Since February this year, Zimbabwe’s new coalition government has been
paying civil servants a flat monthly ‘allowance’ of 100 US dollars, which many say is too little to feed and clothe their families. There are over 200 000 public workers.

The allowances replaced salaries in virtually worthless Zimbabwean dollars, which the new government suspended and replaced with hard currency shortly after its formation.

55 per cent average increase

Instead of the uniform US$100, civil servants will now be paid according to the demands of their profession and grades.

Public Service Commission minister Eliphas Mukonoweshoro on Tuesday did not give details of the new pay scales, saying only wages had been increased by an average of 55 percent. “While this increase is modest, the review sets the basis for future negotiations” he said.

He added “It shows that better times lie ahead. We have given a signal of mobility and it’s a good signal to professionals out there to say come and join us. We are not doing badly in term of regional comparison, we are almost in the same region with Mozambique, Zambia but not Botswana and South Africa”.

But sources within the Public Service Commission said the salaries
would range between US$100 and US$200 dollars. Teachers and nurses would earn US$155 a month, while a qualified doctor would earn US$170. Union leaders indicated they were “in the dark” on the actual figures and would only comment on Monday after getting pay slips.

Government worker unions had threatened to go on strike unless salaries were increased this month while some teachers had started boycotting classes every Friday to press for more pay.

Mukonoweshuro said the US$526 million salary bill would swallow 52 per
cent of the government’s meagre 2009 budget but that the government
felt the increases were necessary to motivate and retain essential staff.

At its formation in February, the government led by longtime rivals, President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said it needed between US$8 and US$10 billion for the country’s long-term economic reconstruction.

Donors have offered only a fraction of their demands, saying the
government needs to show signs of greater commitment to democratic

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