THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Zimbabwe civil servants threaten to down tools
Patricia Mpofu, ZimOnline
October 04, 2007

HARARE - Zimbabwe's civil servants have given President Robert Mugabe's government up to Friday to agree to peg salaries to the breadline or face a crippling strike.

Public school teachers and state doctors have already been on strike for the past week demanding massive salary increments to cushion them from a severe economic crisis marked by the world's highest inflation of more than 6 000 percent, rising poverty and shortages of every essential commodity.

The breadline or poverty datum line is estimated at $16.7 million while the lowest paid government worker earns about $500 000 per month.

Cecilia Alexander-Khowa, president of the Public Service Association (PSA) that represents government workers outside the uniformed forces, told ZimOnline that public servants - among the worst paid workers in the country - felt "betrayed by the government" and were pushing for industrial action.

Alexander-Khowa said: "The PSA leadership is under pressure from the general civil service to go on an industrial action because of the insensitiveness of the employer . . . therefore, the PSA would like to give the employer a chance up to Friday to conclude negotiations positively or risk a strike next week."

Mariyawanda Nzuwa, chairman of the government's Public Service Commission that employs all public workers was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

Critics say Mugabe has plunged Zimbabwe deeper into economic turmoil by ordering public institutions and private businesses to stop raising wages and prices without government approval in a desperate bid to tame runaway inflation.

Teachers numbering about 90 000 on Monday abandoned schools and have vowed not to resume duties until the government hikes salaries to Z$32 million from the present $2.9 million.

There has been little or no learning at all at most public schools across the country with many children opting to stay home because there are no teachers at school.

Public hospitals, barely functional at the best of times because of an acute shortage of both essential drugs and staff, have been without doctors since September when state doctors began striking for more pay.

State doctors want salaries hiked to $120 million up from the present $6 million earned by a junior doctor.

Public hospitals that are the source of health services for the majority of Zimbabweans are turning away patients except only those with life-threatening conditions.

For example, authorities at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, the biggest referral centre in the country, had a notice posted on the messages board informing members of the public there were no doctors at the hospital.

The notice read: "Doctors have gone on an indefinite strike with effect from September 20, 2007. As a result only dire cases will be attended to."

There were long, winding queues of patients at the hospital waiting to be helped by the skeletal staff that was in attendance yesterday. Some patients could be seen milling around the hospital grounds while others lay on benches inside the causality department as they waited for treatment.

Meanwhile, lecturers at state universities have also indicated they plan to go on strike to press for huge salary increments ranging between 300 and 1 000 percent.

Zimbabwe has since 1999 been grappling with an agonising political and economic meltdown, critics blame on repression and mismanagement by Mugabe.

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain, denies mismanaging the country and instead says the West has sabotaged the economy as punishment for his seizure of white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.