The estimated 200 000 Civil Servants decided to down tools on Friday demanding that their wages be increased to about USd 600 from the current USd 120.
“It is not unwillingness on the part of the government,” Mukonoweshuro told the DPA.” It is simply the lack of fiscal capacity on our part,” he said, expressing sympathy with the workers, most of whom are teachers. “Everyone in government knows that what our workers are getting does not meet their daily basic expenses.”
“Even if they ask for 300 dollars for the least paid, that would bring the salary bill to 1.3 billion dollars, which is more than the annual budget of the government,” Mukonoweshuro explained.
He appealed to the workers to return to negotiations, saying their decision to strike was “premature.”
Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ruled out a return to work, saying: “Let them sell diamonds and we share that wealth instead of it being enjoyed by few individuals.”
Majongwe was referring to the Chiadzwa diamond field in eastern Zimbabwe, which the state seized from a British mining company in 2006. Geologists say the alluvial diamond site is the largest find in a century.
On Monday, most public schools were closed and the functioning of the country’s courts was also affected.
A year ago, when Tsvangirai took his then opposition party into government with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, striking doctors, nurses and teachers returned to their posts to help rebuild a wrecked economy.
Although the salaries paid by the new government were low, the workers were hopeful that they would improve quickly with aid from donor governments.
But the billions of dollars in aid sought by the government never materialized. Western governments have said they want to see deep reforms in the area of human rights and governance before committing long-term, non-essential aid.
The MDC blames Zanu-PF for blocking the implementation of agreed- upon reforms, while Zanu-PF blames the MDC for failing to secure the lifting of targeted sanctions aimed mainly at Mugabe and his cronies. DPA