Signs Of Cracks As MDC Differs On Civil Service Salaries

Biti recently announced that government had frozen public service salaries until the financial position of the country’s treasury improves. This was however disputed by his boss, the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai on May Day, who said government had no such policy. But Biti maintained again on Tuesday that civil servants salaries would remain frozen because government had no “capacity to pay its workers”.

Mukonoweshuro on Thursday blasted Biti, accusing him of behaving like a “super minister” who was treading on wrong territory as civil service salaries were not the Finance Minister’s responsibility.

This serious rift by MDC comes at a time when they are reports of cracks in the party including corruption.

However, Tsvangirai this week dismissed reports of divisions in his party, sparked by a recent attack on a senior MDC official by the party’s youth. The incident took place at the party’s headquarters at Harvest House in Harare. The youth have since been suspended pending results of an investigation team.

Mukonoweshuro said Biti had caused “unnecessary anxieties”. He said the government had “an active policy to continuously craft strategies that sooner rather than later improve civil service salaries”.

“There is no government policy to freeze civil service salaries at present,” said Mukonoweshuro. “That is the position of government, which at the moment is cast in stone. The Prime Minister therefore, lucidly pronounced government policy on the issue, and that is the last word.”

“It is most important for me to stress that all issues pertaining to the Ministry of Public Service, such as remuneration issues, conditions of service, human resources policy and management are the responsibility and the central mandate of the responsible minister and no-one else. This government does not operate on the basis of super ministers who may frequently arrogate to themselves responsibilities that are neither in their province or designated mandate,” added Mukonoweshuro.

Mukonoweshuro said “government is actively seeking ways and strategies to improve civil service remuneration”.  He said the current salaries “are at a level that does not constitute a living wage based on the principle of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage”.

Zimbabwe’s civil servants earn between US$ 165 and 250 per month.

Mukonoweshuro added that the government was “determined to improve the salaries and conditions of service for all public servants”.

There are approximately 290 000 civil servants in Zimbabwe and Mukonoweshuro’s ministry caters for about 192 000 who fall under the Public Service Commission and the health Services Board. The other 98 000 are members of the defence forces, police and prison guards and are paid through the Security Services Board.