Civil servants will start receiving their 2015 bonuses this month, with members of the defence forces being the first, while the rest of Government workers will get their 13th cheques between February and May.
This was disclosed by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa to The Herald yesterday, as Treasury moves in to fulfil the pledge made by President Mugabe last year that despite cash flow constraints, civil servants will get their bonuses.
Members of the defence forces — who include the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe — the minister said, will be paid this month, followed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services and the Health sector in March.
The education sector, which has the highest number of employees in Government, will get their bonuses in April while the rest of the civil service and grant-aided institutions will be paid in May.
Minister Chinamasa said due to cash flow challenges, a once off payment was impossible hence the route to stagger the bonuses.
“For the benefit of the public and other relevant stakeholders, I wish to advise that Government remains committed to honouring its 2015 bonus obligations to its employees,” he said.
As you are already aware, Government is currently experiencing cash flow constraints, which makes it untenable to effect a bullet payment.
“To allow room to mobilise the required resources, Government will be staggering the payment of bonuses for public servants beginning this month and until May 2016.”
Anxiety had gripped Government workers who constantly demanded that Government announces the dates when the bonuses would be paid.
Minister Chinamasa said specific pay dates will be communicated upon mobilisation of the requisite resources, adding that, “Treasury sincerely regrets all the inconvenience caused.”
In previous years, Government staggered the bonuses due to cash flow challenges and some workers received their 13th cheque as late as January instead of the traditional November.
Due to tight fiscal space, Minister Chinamasa had early last year contemplated suspending payment of bonuses for 2015 and 2016 to create space for funding Zim-Asset.
The move irked civil servants and President Mugabe overturned the suspension saying “when Government bestows a benefit on civil servants, that benefit cannot be withdrawn because it has become a right.”
Last month, Government had to change pay dates for its workers with the last batch getting their salaries on January 5.
Government later met civil servants’ representatives and gave them specific pay dates when their salaries would be paid.
All workers got their salaries as announced and the employer promised constant pay dates this year.
Delays in the payment of the 2015 bonuses saw some civil servants threatening to strike not before their representatives met Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya who took them through what Government had in its coffers at that time.
This satisfied the representatives who subsequently ruled out the industrial action.
At least 83 percent of Government revenue is servicing salaries, a development that stifles economic growth.
Government has come up with a number of strategies to reduce the wage bill and is rationalising the civil service following an audit carried out last year by the Civil Service Commission.
Student teachers and trainees’ allowances have been reduced from $329 to $157, while salaries for teachers at private and trust schools have been terminated.
All vacant posts have been abolished, bus fare for civil servants has been reintroduced, under-used staff is being redeployed, funding of bridging courses has been scrapped while all members who were abusing various types of leave, tampering with pay sheets and attendance registers have been charged.
At the same time, no teacher will go on vacation leave as there is no money to pay relief teachers who will replace them for the three months they will be away.
Government has also reintroduced a 7,5 percent pension contribution, which had been shelved since 2009 when every civil servant was getting $100.