Friday, February 04, 2011

(TALKZIMBABWE) Civil servants being taken for a ride

Civil servants being taken for a ride
By: Bhekizulu Sibanda – Mount Pleasant
Posted: Friday, February 4, 2011 1:19 am

DEAR EDITOR - Allow me through your widely read publication to express my disappointment over the way the civil servants salary reviews are being handled both by our workers council and government being represented by Minister of Finance Tendai Biti and Minister of Public service, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro.

I think civil servants are being taken for a ride by both sides.

I am forced to subscribe to the rumour that our council representatives were bribed by MDC-T to pacify us so that they (MDC-T) would not be embarrassed by their failure to improve our welfare.

This is after MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai made an impassionate plea to civil servants to return home promising them lucrative salaries and improved working conditions.

Looking back, one will realise that since the MDC-T got into government, civil servants demands have been ignored and their strikes have been virtually ineffective and have yielded nothing.

Firstly, APEX council was only given an audience by Biti less than 24 hours before his Budget presentation just to show how insignificant they are. And as expected, their views were never meant to be incorporated in the 2011 Budget. Still the APEX council made no fuss about it.

Secondly, the Public Service Commission went ahead and reviewed 2011 salaries by marginal figures without even consulting our workers' representatives because they knew it was not necessary.

APEX council pretended to be shocked by the miserable salary increase.

To substantiate my point, both ministers Biti and Mukonoweshuro have been arrogant regarding our salary reviews because they know they are holding our representatives by the groins.

How do you explain Mukonoweshuro’s assertion that civil servants are 'cry-babies' and Biti’s rude statement when he said, "Do you expect me to squeeze money from a rock?” and his arrogant contention, "Show me where the money is and I can go and collect it”?

Is this the way he would have addressed representatives from the Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe?

Is that the arrogance he would show his colleagues in Parliament?

Instead, he can afford to handsomely pay legislators, write off their debts in addition to getting them new single–cab vehicles for their personal use.

Apparently, these legislators' lives have no bearing on what the life of the ordinary person they claim to represent is like.

The life of luxury that they live with all the government perks are a far-cry from what the teachers, police, clerks of Zimbabwe dream of.

So is financial discipline only for the masses?

Where is the stamina of our representatives?

Prior to the GPA, our union was vibrant and results-orientated in pushing for strikes against the Zanu-PF government. We operated under a hyper-inflationary environment, but we still got meaningful wage increases.

The coming on board of MDC-T in government has seen workers councils taking a sympathetic approach towards the government and refusing to strike on the understanding that the government was operating on a shoestring budget.

One can then easily conclude that they are sympathizing with Tsvangirai who is being forced to take back his words after failing to live up to his promise. Civil servants have realized the futility of his promises.

Zimbabwean public servants have to stay very vigilant to avoid being used by people who purport to be representing them, yet have their own hidden political agendas.

Such kind of cunning politicking is not new in the Zimbabwean scenario.

Bhekizulu Sibanda – Mount Pleasant

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