The shifting of pay dates for civil servants is likely to continue as the cash-strapped state has to rely on revenue collected by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to meet its salary obligations to the 230 000-strong public workforce.
The government has been postponing the pay dates for public workers without notice for two consecutive months – a move that has angered public-sector unions in the country.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament last week that the pay delays would continue as the treasury had to wait for money collected from Zimra to pay salaries.
Public workers’ salaries are estimated to swallow nearly 75% of the state’s monthly revenue, with the wage bill now at $155-million after April’s annual salary increases.
“When resources are not of the levels to meet our obligations we have to wait,” said Chinamasa.
“We run a cash budget, and a cash budget means that we wait for receipts from Zimra before we can disburse to meet the obligations of government, including the salaries of honourable members.”
Public-sector trade unions, among them the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), say that the pay delays are affecting their work and they would soon be demanding an audience with the government.
Zimta chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said the government must have the decency to communicate its challenges to the unions and not make unilateral decisions without consulting with them.
Election promises made by President Robert Mugabe last year to raise the salaries of public workers to match the state’s $550-a-year poverty datum line are now haunting the state, with economic analysts warning that the salary hikes effected in April will not be sustainable in the long run.
Earlier this year the World Bank recommended that the government retrench some of its bloated public workforce to reduce its wage bill.
Chinamasa rejected the recommendation, saying he would rather try to grow the economy than cut jobs.