Zimbabwean officials promised long-awaited bonuses

By on 11/03/2018
President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a debate on the Zimbabwean Government's 2018 national budget in parliament (Image courtesy: Parliament of Zimbabwe).

The Zimbabwean government has released a payment schedule for the 2017 end-of-year public service bonus, ending months of uncertainty for civil servants and other public sector staff.

But the wait will continue for many, as payments of the customary “13th cheque” will be made on a staggered basis over the next four months, in line with a commitment made in the 2018 National Budget Statement in December.

Willard Manungo, secretary to the finance and economic development department, said late last month that the army, air force and health sector will receive the bonus in March; the police and correctional services in April; the education sector in May; and other civil servants in June.

Lucky 13

The bonus will be paid on the same date that public servants are paid their monthly salary, Manungo said, adding that the Treasury will advise on specific payments for the respective months.

The announcement follows mounting concern among civil servants over delays in paying out the bonus, which did not accompany pay packets in January and February. The 13th cheque, which dates back to colonial times, was traditionally paid in November, but has been paid late over recent years due to government cash shortages.

Finance and economic development minister Patrick Chinamasa assured civil servants last year that they would be paid the 2017 bonus, for which US$176m had been set aside.

But following the ousting of president Robert Mugabe and the inauguration of his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa as president in November, the civil service was removed from the former Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and placed under the aegis of the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).

Teething troubles

Zimbabwean government ministers attend a cabinet meeting (Image courtesy: Office of the President and Cabinet, Government of Zimbabwe).

Cecilia Alexander, president of the Apex Council – a coalition of nine civil service staff associations – said it has faced difficulty communicating with the government over the bonus payments, delays to which have caused a lot of anxiety among civil servants, The Herald reported.

Alexander said the Apex Council has written to the government complaining about the lack of effective communication with public sector employees and calling for a minister for the civil service to be appointed following its move to the OPC, The Chronicle reported.

The government announced on Tuesday that Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, minister of state for presidential affairs and monitoring implementation of government programmes, has been designated as the minister responsible for administering the public service, according to The Chronicle.

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London, who specialises in international news. She worked on daily newspapers for 16 years, reporting extensively on both general news and education. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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