Lately one of the most topical issues has been that of civil servants in Zimbabwe. There has been industrial action, especially by workers in the health industry. Understandably, people have had enough given the meagre salaries they have been getting. Imagine teachers getting something equivalent to a mere US$40. I cannot even wrap my head around how someone is expected to live sustainably on that. It is quite sad that civil servants, despite their pertinent role in society, are treated as paupers. Anyways, it reactionary itself once again issued a press statement (on the 27th of June 2022) outlining reviews of the remuneration packages for the civil service.
An Overview Of The Reviews
As you probably all know government is comprised of 3 major arms i.e. Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary. Thus the measures were done concerning each of those segments. Herein I will highlight the major aspects mentioned under each one of them.
COVID And Cushioning Allowances
The COVID allowance has been in effect for some time now and will continue to be in place. This is still US$75 payable in foreign currency. Then there is the US$100 cushioning allowance again payable in foreign currency. These allowances apply to workers working in the entire Civil Service.
The major note here is that the basic salaries for civil servants have been increased by 100 percent effective from 1 July 2022. It was cited that negotiations are still ongoing to establish more and better reviews in that regard.
There has been widespread chatter regarding this 100 percent salary increment. How is a 100 percent increment of an already paltry salary worth celebrating? This is especially when it pertains to money in Zimbabwean dollars. Many have likened the increment to be the equivalent of multiplying 2 by 0 – you still get 0.
They also indicated that serving civil servants still have access to housing loan guarantee schemes, civil service housing loan schemes, and access to import one vehicle duty-free (for personal use).
Honestly, those so-called benefits barely qualify to be called benefits. If you are already getting low income how is taking out loans beneficial? How also can you afford to import a vehicle? These are ‘benefits’ that many civil servants are not in a position to appropriate.
Let us look at the respective sectors:
There are specific allowances that apply to the health sector; these have been reviewed upward. These include on-call allowances (for doctors and lab scientists), night duty (also standby and callout) allowances (for nurses, nurse aides, and general hands in theatre), nurse managers allowances, and special health equalization factor (applicable to all eligible staff), and COVID and infectious disease risk allowances.
To add, the government has reviewed non-monetary benefits for the health sector. These include institutional housing for health workers (initially in Harare and Bulawayo). Housing loan guarantees, and transport facilities (initially for a referral or central hospitals). Revamping the cafeteria system plus streamlining local sourcing and production of uniforms for health workers are also part of the list.
The school fees of up to 3 biological children shall be paid per teaching family. This is currently pegged at ZWL$20 000 per child per term. The payment of such will be done directly to the child’s school by Treasury.
The government indicated that there shall be the restoration of advancement awards. Payment of performance awards to commence effective from 1 July 2022. Members will now be classified correctly according to their actual employment grades.
The other measures include the provision of 34 000 housing units for teachers – still in the pipeline. Then the provision of transport facilities for teachers – something we are yet to see being full-blown.
The security sector for the most part has access to similar benefits such as transport facilities, housing loan guarantees and schemes, plus duty-free importation of a vehicle. This is an addition to the 100 percent salary increment and the COVID and cushioning allowances.
Salaries under this segment have also been reviewed upwards by 100 percent with effect from 1 July 2022. Sitting allowances have also been increased by 100 percent. A contributory medical scheme has been introduced where the government covers 80 percent and the worker contributes the rest. Duty-free importation of a second vehicle is yet another benefit here for parliamentarians. Buses have been acquired to ferry parliament staff. Constituency visit allowances are now in place for parliamentarians, entailing things like the provision of fuel regardless of distance to be covered.
All members under this segment shall get at least 100 percent salary increments effective from 1 July 2022. There shall also be an allowance that equalizes them with peers in the legal profession. Transport facilities, housing loan guarantees and schemes, plus duty-free importation of a vehicle apply here as well.
That is how it currently stands for the civil service in Zimbabwe. It might be insensitive for me to comment on whether or not this current framework is good. I know most of you probably are civil servants. Kindly share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.