Zimbabwe government has pledged to extend the foreign currency non-taxable Covid-19 allowance for civil servants and pensioners to December this year as it seeks to maintain its position of providing a living wage for government employees. The offer was announced during the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting comprising of Government and civil servants representatives to tackle issues affecting workers. Earlier in June, Government announced a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$75 a month for civil servants and increased their salaries by 50 percent while pensioners who retired from the civil service also got a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$30. Initially the Government forex allowance offer was just for three months meaning it was supposed to end last month. The forex allowance is part of government efforts to cushion its workers from the effects of Covid-19. When it announced the Covid-19 forex non-taxable allowances, Government stated that civil servants had to open nostro accounts so that the money is deposited in the accounts which they will use electronically to curb illegal Forex dealing.
Following hurdles in accessing the hardships allowance from banks, a move alleged to sabotage the government move, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube last month challenged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to bring the banking sector to order and address the artificial challenges depriving employees from accessing their forex. RBZ has since ordered banks to ensure that all civil servants are issued with bank cards to enable them to access their foreign currency allowances. Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecilia Alexander said Government made it clear that it understood the plight of its employees and was working to address some of the challenges they were facing. Meanwhile negotiations to improve civil servants’ salaries are on-going and Government has tabled an offer to extend the Covid-19 allowance to December.
“We had a meeting today with Government representatives who made an undertaking to extend the Covid19 forex allowance to December. We also discussed the issue of salary increase and the negotiations are ongoing,” she said. Mr Tapson Siband, Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary general said Government has agreed to pay civil servants foreign currency allowances until year end with 40 percent salary increase offer.
However, Public Service Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said salary negotiations for civil servants were ongoing and therefore he was not free to re-empty the negotiations.
“I’m not at liberty at this particular time to discuss those issues because they are subject to our negotiations in the NJNC meetings. A full statement will be issued once we conclude the negotiations,” said Minister Mavima.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News