Reports that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and their vice presidents and deputy premiers secretly received salary increases of 400 percent from the Treasury in January have generated widespread resentment among public workers.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba confirmed to the ZANU-PF-leaning Sunday Mail that Mr. Mugabe was now receiving US$1,750 a month before other unspecified allowances. A ZANU-PF cabinet minister told VOA that Mr Tsvangirai’s salary was raised to US$1,650 at the same time.
A senior member of the judiciary told VOA that Mr. Mugabe demanded a raise after learning he was earning less than judges paid US$1,200 a month. Finance Minister Tendai Biti was ordered to provide funds to cover the increases, sources said.
Constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku said that under the Presidential Salary and Allowances Act salaries of top officials must be made public, so the raises were unconstitutional.
Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, soldiers, teachers and other civil servants blasted the government for neglecting them while giving big increases to executive officers. State workers have given the government 30 days to address their demands or face a possible strike.
Labor leaders objected to what they described as inequitable pay increases.
Deputy Secretary General Japhet Moyo of the Zimbabwe Congress of trade Unions said that the government should award state workers the same percentage increase as Mr. Mugabe.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Secretary General Raymond Majongwe said his teachers feel left out by the large pay increases granted to top government officials.
Ministerial sources said the Cabinet will take up the issue tomorrow at its weekly meeting.
VOA was unable to obtain comment from Biti. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara referred all questions to Biti saying he was in China.
Members of Parliament are also demanding increased compensation. Bulawayo East member of Parliament Thabitha Khumalo, a member of Parliament's welfare committee, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu she was not aware that top executives had received pay increases.
In the private sector, meanwhile, The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe are said to be working to bridge the gap between the country's top earners and the shop-floor workers. The highest-paid executives in the private sector are said to be earning as much as US$20,000 a month, the lowest-paid no more than US$150.