PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has apologised to civil servants for continued delays in paying their salaries and bonuses, as the country continues to grapple with the effects of a shrinking economy.
Mugabe, who is not known to apologise even when wrong, was addressing thousands of Zimbabweans who thronged the National Sports Stadium on Monday for celebrations to mark the country’s 36 years of Independence Day from Britain.
“Government will continue to find ways of improving the welfare of civil servants. It is the desire of government that salaries progressively match the Poverty Datum Line.
“Government apologises for the late disbursements of salaries, bonuses and monthly payments to pensioners but be rest assured government is working flat out to improve the situation.”
Mugabe said the recent restoration of pension deductions from workers’ salaries will help smoothen the payment of pensions to be on time.
However, Mugabe’s regrets for paying civil servants late comes exactly a year after he took the same occasion to embarrass finance minister Patrick Chinamasa through reversing a decision to suspend bonus payments for two years citing a shrinking national purse.
Since the time, civil servants’ payment dates have been erratic, with the majority receiving their December 2015 salaries in January this year.
In his address, President Mugabe thanked the country’s security forces for preserving peace in the country and abroad.
“Our security and defence forces have remained resolute in defending our sovereignty and peace within our borders,” he said.
“On the international scene, they continue to make us proud.
“Currently, our security forces have officers deployed on peace support operations in the Sudan, South Sudan Ethiopia and Cote d’ivoire.”
Mugabe said his government has strove to reopen some companies which shut down past few years due to continued viability constraints. He said new firms were also being opened.
He also said his government had worked hard in recent months to reduce load shedding through a combination of power imports and various measures to improve the country’s power generation capacity.
Monday’s independence day celebrations were also being held in difference provincial centres through out the country.