The Zimbabwean government has awarded civil servants a cushioning allowance of RTGS$400 for the month of July.
Civil servants had on Wednesday given its employer five working days to respond to their demands or face strike action.
Among demands tabled by the teacher’s workers unions is for government to pay the workers using a USD$500 interbank rate which will translate to about RTGS$4000-00.
However, MDC spokesperson Daniel Molokele, said government does not have the capacity to pay such an amount.
“All these issues around the teachers, around the doctors, around the nurses, around monetary policy, inflation, around all the problems we are having, fuel queues all those issue are just symptoms of a bigger issue which is a crisis of legitimacy in terms of the politics of the country,” said Molokele.
Yesterday, in a National Joint Negotiating Council meeting, attended by the Apex Council and government representatives, it was agreed that civil servants will all receive RTGS$400 as cushioning allowance for the month of July.
“Following a meeting held today, 18th of July 2019 between the Government and the Apex Council to deliberate on the cushioning allowance, an agreement has been reached,” read a statement from the Apex Council Chairperson, Cecilia Alexander.
During the meeting, government brought an offer, increasing the total earnings of civil servants by 50% from the 25% it had earlier proposed. This was flatly denied by the Apex Council as it was deemed way below the economic demands faced by the workers.
Alexander said that after dismissing the 50% offer, an agreement was then reached to offer all civil servants a cushioning allowance of RTGS400 across the board.
“Through further negotiations and dialogue, we have achieved to make the Government pay each and every civil servant the sum of $400-00 as a once off payment together with the salary of July regardless of one’s grade,” said Alexander.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) was however singing from a different book with the Apex Council, and vowed that their 22 July strike was still on.
The Association, in a communication sent to SADC News, said the RTGS$400 was far short of the monthly needs of the civil servants and that the government must provide a USD$ interbank salary of USD$500.
“Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ flatly rejects the deal agreed by the National Joint Negotiating Council in their meeting concluded in darkness. The $400 cushioning allowance agreed for July falls far short of the monthly needs of the workers. Schools will still shut down on 22 July 2019. We are not going to work until we receive an interbank equivalent of our United States dollar salaries,” warned the Union.
However, Apex Council Chairperson Alexander, explained that her team is now working on the Cost of Living Adjustment which is earmarked to start in August.
“Our focus is now on COLA, which is supposed to be effected in August. To this end we hope the dialogue will take cognizance of the PDL (poverty datum line) and other issues,” added Alexander.
It remains to be seen, if the strike by the teacher’s union will be effective, to push for the USD$500 interbank rated salary from a government riddled with a stressed economy. Recently, the countries’ statistical office reported that, inflation is reported to have hit bottom 175.66% a further surge from 97.5% in May.
SADC News Zimbabwe Correspondent
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.