The GOVERNMENT paid its workers bonuses in foreign currency this year to protect them from inflation. Civil servants were paid in foreign currency up to a maximum of US $ 700 while retirees were paid US $ 100.
The government said the decision to pay premiums on forex was a response to changing market conditions and the need to protect its workers from the damaging effects of exchange rate fluctuations. He said, however, that the payment of the 13th check in forex was a one-time gesture by President Cde Mnangagwa.
In early November, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) asked the government to pay teachers their bonuses in foreign currency to protect them from inflation. The government has answered the call by paying all civil servants and its retirees bonuses in foreign currency.
It was another demonstration by the government that it is sensitive to the plight of its workers much to the chagrin of critics of the country who always urge officials to fight the government.
Improving the working conditions of public servants is a continuous exercise and as we have said before, the government and its workers should be constantly engaged rather than confrontational.
Officials last week said they were pressuring the government to pay them wages on forex. Apex Chairman of the Board Cecelia Alexander said the forex bonus payment was confirmation that the government has the ability to pay wages in hard currency.
She said workers appreciated the fact that in the past the government did not have the capacity to pay wages in foreign currency due to other obligations. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development said earlier this month that the government will not pay forex wages.
Officials, we are to believe, are appreciating the impact of disruptions to economic activities following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The fact that the government has paid them forex bonuses does not mean that it has the capacity to pay forex wages.
We’re not saying that public servants shouldn’t demand better wages, but they should consider their employer’s ability to pay those wages.
We have already declared the need for civil servants to hire their employer and we hope that during the engagements the government will provide income and expenditure figures on the forex so that there is an appreciation of its ability to pay salaries. in forex.
Many companies have not paid premiums on forex and the government should be commended for sacrificing limited forex income to depreciate its workers.
It is unfortunate that officials now misinterpret this one-off gesture as confirmation of the government’s ability to pay wages on the forex.