The Sunday Mail
The Presidency and Cabinet did not approve suspension of civil servants’ bonuses, and Government will pay its employees a 13th cheque come year-end, President Mugabe has said.
The President said contrary to last week’s media reports suggesting bonuses had been suspended for two years, there was no such policy position.
In off-the-cuff remarks while concluding his 35th Independence Day address at the National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday, he said: “I want to thank all our public servants for the support they gave to the Government, support which has seen us go through the year in peace and harmony, go through the year in achieving some of our programmes.
“We have maintained peace, indeed. We have done much as what was afforded by our financial capacity. I want to say, through the Public (Service) Commission, thank you, thank you civil servants.
“At the same time, I want to make it clear that the reports in the newspapers, that bonuses were being withdrawn, is not Government policy.
“The Cabinet did not approve all that and the Presidency was never, never consulted on the matter. We were never consulted; the three of us, and that is myself and the Vice Presidents. And we say that is disgusting to us and it will never be implemented at all.
“So, let the civil servants not be down-hearted; that will not happen. The rules are that when Government bestows a benefit on civil servants, that benefit cannot be withdrawn because it has become a right.
“That is there in the rules, and our rules handling the governing of public servants. When they are given a benefit, we cannot reverse it at all. It has become their right and that is what we stand by. So, your bonuses will come to you.”
Last week Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists that civil servants’ bonuses had been suspended in line with measures aimed
at helping finance the country’s five-year economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
The news was received with mixed feelings, with civil servants displaying apprehension while some economists threw their weight behind the pronouncement.
And President Mugabe yesterday said authorities were exploring ways of cutting the bloated public service wage bill, which continues to eat into funds earmarked for development.
“We are pleased to observe that our economy is steadily on the path to recovery, having registered in 2014, a growth rate of 3,1 percent. The growth was largely driven by better performance in mining, agriculture and construction.
‘‘However, the 2014 Budget implementation process experienced increased expenditure pressures, against low revenue collections.
“The expenditure pressures were largely driven by high employment costs.
‘‘As a result, Government faces challenges in funding developmental programmes.
‘‘As part of rectifying this state of affairs, Government is engaging in ways to reduce the bloated public service wage bill.”
He said one of Zimbabwe’s major revenue earners, mining, remained subdued due to old equipment and high production costs.
He said – in a bid to generate revenue from the sector – Government had secured the services of four reputable diamond cutting and polishing companies to help add value to precious stones.
Already, all diamond mining companies in Zimbabwe are being consolidated into one entity to enhance transparency and accountability; while the US$3 billion initiative being undertaken in the Great Dyke by the Russians will help determine the value of platinum deposits in the area.
The President expressed gratitude to China, Russia and other progressive countries which have stood by Zimbabwe in difficult times, and described how more investors were warming up to Zimbabwe on account of Zim-Asset.
The World Bank has injected US$6 million to support parastatals.
“Already there is a growing number of businesspeople and investors, from the region and continent and across the globe, who are willing to support and partner us in seeing to the success of ZimAsset,” he said.
On food security, President Mugabe said Government had in place measures to ensure no one starved due to low grain output anticipated this year.
He said food production should be underpinned by irrigation and mechanised farming.
“Already, under the More-Food-for-Africa programme, Government has acquired a vast array of agricultural equipment and tractors from Brazil for use by smallholder farmers on a cost recovery basis.
“The programme, which is promising to be the largest mechanisation programme by Government so far, shall be launched soon.”
Regarding power availability, the President said the 300MW Kariba South Extension project was progressing smoothly.
He added that Government was concerned with the quality of life of rural folk and as such, more than 400 rural institutions had been electrified last year alone.
All major hospitals have been re-tooled with state-of-the art equipment procured under a US$89 million loan facility from China Eximbank.
President Mugabe said projects such as the rehabilitation of the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare Road; the Training for Enterprise Model in Vocational Training Centres; the Women’s Development Fund; the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) and Community Information Centres were testimony of Government’s commitment to improving the lives of its citizenry.
Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangangwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Cabinet ministers, service chiefs, senior Government officials and diplomats were among the dignitaries who joined thousands of Zimbabweans at the main celebrations.