Zimbabwe finance minister Tendai Biti on Wednesday revealed President Robert Mugabe’s monthly salary. But this was quickly dismissed by restless teachers as a mere ploy to get them back to classrooms.
According to Tendai Biti, Robert Mugabe is currently earning US $300 as his monthly salary.
More than 45,000 teachers from the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association
(ZIMTA) have embarked on a strike pressing for pay raise. However, Biti said there was no fiscal room for the inclusive government to increase anyone’s salary because it was broke.
“Unless there is a dramatic improvement in the economy and revenue
improves by 300 per cent, we have no fiscal space for a salary increment at the moment. Even the President is currently earning US$300 and we can’t draw water from stones. The economy is not performing,” he said.
But teachers say they can not be compared to Mugabe saying if its true they want Mugabe’s pay slip published on national newspapers for
everyone to see.
A final term in the school calendar was meant to commence today but teachers boycotted classes unless their demands are meet. The teachers are currently earning US $155 per month after tax, and they are seeking a review that is in line with the bread basket which is currently pegged at US$600.
Biti, however, pleaded with the teachers to remain patient while the economy got back to its feet, noting that the government was concerned
with their plight. “Our main priority is to pay the civil servants and from the time we announced salaries for the civil service, about 70 per cent or two-thirds of the budget has gone to pay our workers,” he said.
In July this year, the government recorded its highest revenue inflows of about US $90 million but 65 per cent of it went to salaries. Biti says they paid US$52 million for civil servants’ salaries and the rest went to hospitals for drugs, the various embassies across the world, food, and inputs for agricultural activities, among other expenses,” he said.
According to Biti there are 236,000 civil servants and if all were paid the
lowest desired wage of US$400, the government would have to spend more
than US$94 million per month. “There is no money and government is currently operating on a cash budget,” said Biti.
On Wednesday morning education minister David Coltart was making
frantic efforts to meet teachers’ unions in an effort to avert a nationwide strike.