Felex Share Senior Reporter
Government will pay civil servants their 2017 bonuses next year, with the first batch of workers set to be paid in February, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira revealed yesterday.
The new timelines represent an improvement from last year, where the 13th cheque for 2016 was only processed beginning April this year.
Payments, according to Minister Mupfumira, will be staggered on account of low revenue inflows into Government’s coffers.
“Government has taken a position, 2017 bonuses will be paid,” she said. “We are not going to make a once-off payment, we are going to stagger again and we hope to start earlier.
“Provisionally, we want to begin in February. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is working hard to make this achievable. We have concluded the issue together with the Finance Minister (Patrick Chinamasa).”
Government staggered payment of 2016 bonuses because of resource challenges, but all the workers had received the 13th cheque by July this year.
Initially, Government had envisaged to pay the last batch in August.
Minister Mupfumira said Government had resource challenges, but civil servants had to be rewarded for their efforts.
“We don’t have money, most companies are not paying bonuses, but we believe we have to appreciate the work being done by our workers,” she said.
“We have to look for the money. We are committing that bonuses will be paid. Despite having constrained revenue inflows, we are going to ensure everyone gets a 13th cheque. We have paid the 2016 bonuses and we finished earlier than anticipated.
“Remember, the last batch was supposed to be paid in August, but they were paid in July. If the situation improves, they will get the bonuses early. If the economy recovers fully, as we anticipate, our target is to retain to the traditional dates. We expect the workers to bear with us because we are trying everything possible to ensure they get what they deserve under an adverse environment.”
Minister Mupfumira added: “As the employer, we will continue working on various incentives such as housing. Workers should be earning more than they are getting now and while the situation improves, we have to incentivise them.”
Minister Mupfumira also communicated the good news to headmasters and educators attending the Third Education Conference and Expo in Harare yesterday.
“We want to keep our workers motivated and I reaffirm Government’s commitment to continue paying the employees’ bonuses,” she told the educators.
Civil servants’ unions yesterday welcomed Government decision, saying it would enable them to plan.
“We welcome this development and people can work without any disturbances,” said Apex Council chairperson, Mrs Cecilia Alexander. “It means this time workers can plan on time.
“We are also happy with Government’s commitment to pay despite the challenges being faced economically. It means the employer values the workers. Of interest to us is that this time the bonus issue is coming without conditions unlike last year when they tried to table the issue of residential stands as bonuses.”
Mrs Alexander said they were hopeful that the non-monetary incentives being worked on by the employer would materialise.
“On housing, we are seeing progress and we want the scheme to benefit the intended beneficiaries,” she said. “At this juncture, we haven’t had any problems and we will continue guarding against those who want to hijack the programme as has happened in the past.”
Government is working on a housing scheme for civil servants, and more than 500 000 workers are expected to benefit.
The employer intends to build high-rise flats for the workers and recently floated a tender for the construction of the apartments.
The first blocks of flats are expected to be built in Highfield, Harare.
They will be a test case expected to guide Government and its workers on pricing.
More than 75 000 workers have registered to take part in the flats scheme, while others await residential stands to be availed in various cities and towns.
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