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Labor Unions Applaud Government Bonus Offer

Labor unions have applauded Finance Minister Tendai Biti for promising to pay civil servants bonuses this year despite shrinking revenues that have so far seen the government accumulating a budget deficit of $350 million over the past 9 months.

Representatives of the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) say morale among civil servants got a boost following Biti’s announcement.

At a pre-budget meeting in Bulawayo on Thursday, Biti said bonuses would be paid over a two-month period.

However, the unions say the minister has not officially confirmed the bonuses to the union.

ZIMTA chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said some labor unions that were planning to go on strike over the lack of salary increments and bonuses may abandon their plans.

Biti, who was not immediately available for comment, reduced the national budget this year from $4 billion to $3.6 billion due to a shortfall in revenues.

The Zimbabwe economy - battered by political uncertainty, policy inconsistencies and poor crop harvests - is expected to grow only by 5.6 percent this year instead of 9.4 percent projected by the Ministry of Finance last December.

The country, which expected to generate at least $600 million in diamond sales in 2012, only received only $41.6 million between January and June from companies mining in the controversial Marange field in Manicaland Province.

It was supposed to net at least $123 million in the first quarter of the year.

The struggling nation registered a growth rate of 9.3 percent in 2011 following a decade of economic decline.
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