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Zimbabwe State Workers Stage Protest Over Low Pay

Hundreds of Zimbabwean civil servants staged a march in the capital, Harare, Tuesday demanding better remuneration and improved working conditions.

Singing revolutionary songs and waving placards, the government employees said they were struggling to make ends meet off their low salaries.

They gathered at Harare Gardens and then marched to Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s offices where they delivered a petition.

From Biti’s offices, they proceeded to parliament to deliver copies of the petition to the speakers of both the lower and upper houses which were handed to the clerk of the august house, Austin Zvoma.

Apex Council chairperson Tendai Chikowore said workers were unhappy that government was failing to deliver on its promise to increase their salaries.

"Civil servants cannot understand why they continue to be paid salaries below the poverty datum line," said Chikowore.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe general secretary Raymond Majongwe said civil servants are worried that proceeds from Marange diamond field and other minerals are being pocketed by the elite while the majority of government workers are earning peanuts.

Public Service Association president Cecelia Alexander warned that civil servants will soon embark on a full-fledged strike if their demands are not met.

Parliamentary budget committee member Dorcas Sibanda said it is impossible for Biti to increase salaries of civil servants due to lack of accountability in the mining of Marange diamond mines.

The civil servants decided last Thursday to stage the demonstration after Biti downgraded the national budget from $4 billion to $3.4 billion due to drying diamond revenues from Marange field.

The diamond revenues were this year expected to boost state coffers by at least $600 million. Zimbabwe generated $41.6 million from diamond sales between January and June this year instead of the expected $123 million.

Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Airlines KLM has announced that it will resume flights between Harare and Amsterdam in October, 13 years after it stopped plying the route following serious economic challenges in the country.

In a statement, KLM said it will have at least 11 weekly flights linking Zimbabwe with Kenya and the Dutch capital.