For a very long time Zanu(PF) has portrayed itself as a party built on socialism principles, the sharing of all state resources fairly among its people despite the different efforts they apply to their tasks. The lie has been lived long enough since independence and civil servants were religiously getting their annual 13th cheque.
Zanu (PF) and Robert Mugabe during the coalition government of 2009-2013 with the MDC formations remained steeped in its duplicity of being leftist even when the economy was hemorrhaging. Mugabe and company continued to espouse mantra that they were pro-poor and would not take the Bretton Woods inspired economic restructuring policies.
For five years, former Finance minister Tendai Biti (MDC-T), was wailing in the wilderness about cutting back on government expenditure especially cutting back on foreign travel and allowances and reducing the wage bill by retrenching civil servants to leave a lean and efficient bureaucracy.
Then recurrent expenditure stood at 74% of the national budget and was increasing as the coalition government lived in their ‘last supper mentality’ and bought luxury cars, traveled to every foreign summit/workshop and doled out largesse to new farmers.
Mugabe would have none of Biti’s arguments – he maintained look for the money to pay the civil servants and give them an increase. Biti’s failure under the circumstances was always taken as the MDC-T anti-workers principle and support for capital.
Fast forward to 2015, and Zanu (PF) has without doubt shown that it shared MDC-T economic principles but for political expediency. It remained unfazed even with the economic figures showing declining revenues it remained steadfast to its deceptive nature of being the paternalistic party.
On Tuesday, Patrick Chinamasa the current minister of Finance after the disputed 2013 general elections dropped the pretense and bit the bullet on unsustainable government recurrent expenditure.
He announced the government among other decisions had suspended the payment of bonuses to civil servants for the next two years starting this year.
“Government has decided to suspend bonus payments for the civil servants in 2015 and 2016, and the situation will be reviewed in 2017 in the event that we are able to build enough capacity,” said Chinamasa.
He added the suspension of bonus was only but part of the bold measures the government will employ to reduce government recurrent expenditure in addition to staff audit and retrenchments.
The government through the ministry of Public Services has already commenced auditing employees in the ministry of Education, the biggest employer in the government.
It remains interesting that the Zanu(PF) government is embarking on a new civil service staff audit despite never implementing the recommendation of the 2011 Ernest & Young (India) report that showed there were over 75 000 workers on the payroll whose employment was done irregularly.
The majority of the workers now referred to as ‘ghost workers’ according to Ernest & Young do not possess the mandatory minimum 5 Ordinary level passes including English and Mathematics.
Chinamasa, interestingly, also spoke of the government’s new policy of performance related salaries which his side of government during the coalition tenure vehemently opposed.
It remains to be seen, that Zanu(PF) has chosen to veer right economically and embrace the Bretton Woods economic advice and policies such as the Staff Monitored Program, whether it will go all the way in the manner proposed by MDC-T in their economic policy documents ART and JUICE.
For now, it seems Zanu (PF) is keeping structural adjustment course as the MDC-T cannot be seen to be opposing its own policies unless if it switches to playing the socialist rhetoric. The elections are still a good three years away and there is no much fear of losing an election as long as they will have a year to pacify the electorate through short term political expedient policies 12 months before polls. It could mean, like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm – there is no difference between the two Zanu PF and MDC-T.