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Zimbabwean Civil Servants Riled by Salary Increments for Cabinet Ministers

Most ministers contacted by VOA Studio 7 were coy over their salaries, some saying they have not been checking their bank accounts

Zimbabwean civil servants have threatened a confrontation with the government over poor salaries following media reports that cabinet ministers were in January secretly awarded hefty salary increments.

The weekly Standard newspaper reported Sunday that ministers now earn an average of $2,300 a month. But ministers contacted by VOA Studio 7 gave different figures ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 as their salaries.

The new payments, according to the Standard and the state-controlled Herald newspaper came into effect though government has constantly said it it broke, refusing to increase pay for its workers who are earning less than US$200.

Unions for civil servants said the secret increment shows insincerity by the inclusive government in addressing their salaries. Previously, ministers were earning at least $600.

The lowest paid civil servant earns $161, but unions are advocating for a basic salary of $502. They are pushing to meet President Robert Mugabe to discuss their plight.

Chairman Paddy Zhanda of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that ministers are entitled to higher salaries due to the nature of their demanding jobs.

But Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said it’s absurd that the government, which is claiming to be broke, has awarded ministers such hefty increments at the expense of struggling civil servants.

Calling government ministers 'looters and plunderers,' Zhou said ordinary Zimbabweans should mobilize to force officials to be transparent, honest and accountable.