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Tensions Among Zimbabwe's MDC Ministers Over Position on Civil Servant Pay


A spat between Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Public Service Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro broke into the open this week as the minister in charge of civil servants took issue with recent statements by Biti declaring a freeze on public salaries due to a budget crunch.

A spat between Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Public Service Minister Elphas Mukonoweshuro broke into the open this week as Mukonoweshuro took exception with recent statements by Biti declaring a freeze on public salaries due to a budget crunch, which Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai later contradicted.

As VOA Studio 7 correspondent Mark Peter Nthambe reported from Harare, the discord among to officials of Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change formation seemed to signal trouble within the party.

Commenting on the spat between the ministers, political analyst Samukele Hadebe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that although differences of opinion are normal and healthy in a democracy, government ministers should articulate policies rather than expressing opinions.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, meanwhile, again laid down an ultimatum for private employers and the government saying they must both increase pay to workers or face labor action.

ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo told VOA reporter Patience Rusere that after issuing such an ultimatum late last year the union decided to wait and see what the government and business would come up with, but it now is being reissued as there’s been no progress on the wage front with 2010 almost half over.

Matombo noted that 98 percent of the country’s workers are living under the poverty line, adding that negotiations within the tripartite government-labor-business framework this year are likely to be contentious.

Elsewhere, though the installation of a national unity government in 2009 stirred hopes for an economic turnaround and revival of industry, workers in the manufacturing center of Gweru, Midlands province, say this has remained a pipe dream as their companies face closure, as VOA Studio 7 correspondent Taurai Shava reported.

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