Zimbabwe’s all time ruler, Robert Mugabe has been granted a pay rise of almost 400 per cent at a time when civil servants are mulling a strike action over low pay. The salary increment comes despite claims that government is bankrupt.
Robert Mugabe’s press secretary, George Charamba told State media Sunday that his boss, who was previously he was getting US$400, was elated with the pay rise that would see him pocket US$1 750 each month- excluding other un-specified benefits.
It was not immediately clear if the Zimbabwean government had approved a pay rise for the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers.
The latest rise, however, qualifies Mugabe to open credit accounts at most of the country’s top retail shops. “When the President read it, he beamed and said, ‘The salary has not only improved; I am also eligible for an Edgars account!’” Said Charamba.
Edgars, is one of the main departmental stores in Zimbabwe but he together with his young wife, Grace are not know for shopping at any of the country’s clothing shops.
Charamba said clothing retail group Edgars, in August informed Mugabe that he now qualified for an account with any of its stores.
The retail group posted an advert on the back of Mugabe’s payslip and also mentioned specifically that he was now eligible for credit, adds the report.
In a brief statement on the President’s payslip, the retail group said: “Mugabe, His Excellency, the President, you qualify for an Edgars account. See overleaf for details.”
The announcement was made amid increasing economic turmoil and threats by civil servants to embark on industrial action at the end of the month to as more than a million of the population faces hunger, whilst enduring shortages of foreign currency.
All transactions, including salaries for workers, in the country are carried out in foreign currency since the southern African country discarded the Zimbabwe dollar last year after hyperinflation estimated at around a trillion percent rendered it worthless.
And civil servants have staged several strikes since the start of the year, to demand better wages.
Schools opened last Tuesday but 25 000 trainee educators where ordered not to report for duty “as government has no financial capacity” to pay them.
Last Wednesday, Air Zimbabwe halted operations after 60 pilots embarked on an indefinite work stoppage demanding payment of allowances running into millions of US dollars.
But Charamba, according to the report defended the increment saying it is far below other government workers.
Heads of government parastatals and some municipalities earn far ahead of Mugabe in terms of salary with most raking in more than US$10 000 per month.
In May this year, private sector statistics showed that most general managers were earning more than US$4 000 per month while financial managers were taking home up to US$5 000 a month.
Sales representatives and motor mechanics were said to be getting basic salaries in the region of US$400 per month while chief executive officers were earning between US$6 000 and US$7 000 per month.
Top executive earnings are reported to have risen in recent months with the highest paid grossing US$20 000 per month.