Government unilateralism, callous, dangerous and discriminatory

Dr. Takavafira Zhou


That the government team of negotiators in the NJNC failed to turn up for a penciled meeting on 20 March is unfortunate in a country 43 years after attaining independence. Needless to mention that it was the government team of negotiators that had postponed the meeting from 17th of March. As if that was not enough a government document dated 15 March, from Sec for Finance & Economic Development (G. Guvamatanga) to chairman of Public Service Commission (Dr V. Hungwe) seem to communicate government official position on salary increments. What is worrisome is that authentic communication is made before conclusion of negotiations, an indicator of unfair labour practice on the part of government.

The government ultimate unilateral offer comprise:

  1. A 100% remuneration review of ZWL emoluments from Deputy Director and below for all sectors.
  2. An increase of cushion and covid allowance from US$200 to US$250 across all sectors excluding health sector
  3. A US$80 teaching allowance to every teacher (indexed to interbank rate)
  4. An increase of cushion and covid allowance for gvt pensioners from US$90 to US$100.
  5. Free Primary Education up to a maximum of 3 children at gvt schools
  6. Gvt funded funeral insurance frame work

Education is a right and not a privilege and a comprehensive free primary education in all primary schools in Zimbabwe would have been more appropriate than to restrict to gvt schools that are insignificant in comparison with number of primary schools in Zimbabwe. It remains to be seen how gvt funded funeral insurance framework would benefit government workers in light of other schemes like GEMS that have no traction to gvt workers.

For the avoidance of doubt teachers and the rest of civil servants must take cognisance of the fact that the figures circulated in the communique are a product of figures discussed in the second meeting with workers’ representatives, that government team was persuaded to go back and reconsider by workers’ representatives. In the first meeting, the government team had even brought miserable figures of 50% ZWL remuneration review and increase of cushion and covid allowances from US$200 to US$220.

Other than dispute over the total quantum, that did not resonate with US$540 as of October 2018, in the second meeting, there were also sticking points that an increase must be backdated to 1 January as against gvt intentions to postdate the increment to April 2023 thereby robbing teachers and rest of civil servants of a review in the first quota.

Sadly, while teachers and rest of civil servants were eagerly waiting for the final negotiations, gvt was busy unilaterally implementing salary reviews. Not surprisingly, gvt team did not turn up for the meeting of 20 March 2023. It is worrisome that gvt has given a 100% salary review to all sectors despite major disparities in salaries caused by what George Charamba dubbed ‘Presidential prerogative.’ As if that is not enough, taking into account, what Guvamatanga called “development in the security sector”, the security sector salary review and cushion allowances are with effect from 1 February and 1 March 2023, respectively and have already been effected On the contrary, teachers and the rest of civil servants salary review, and cushion and covid allowances are postdated to 1 April 2023. Such naked discrimination is not only callous but a monument of Zimbabwean labour injustice. We don’t need to have access to guns in order to be treated in the same manner with our brothers and sisters in the security sector. We don’t begrudge their salaries but outright discrimination as professionals in total flouting of our national constitution.

As Ptuz we want, therefore, to reiterate that it would be naive to blame negotiators for government unilateralism and discrimination of teachers and rest of civil servants. The blame must be laid squarely on gvt’s desire to generate industrial disharmony that militate against productivity in the workplace. Above all, gvt is undermining trade unions in Zimbabwe in a dangerous attempt to capture workers by false partenalistic antics.

A wake up call is not to negotiators but teachers and rest of civil servants. What is our response to gvt unilateralism, callousness and discrimination? Unity of action as opposed to competition remains a fundamental principle. Our demands must also remain realistic. It is a fact that teachers in particular, and other civil servants in general are worthy over US$1000 in terms of their labour value, but the restoration of US$540 as a basic salary must remain our clarion call. Those who can’t swim across a stream cannot find energy to swim across the ocean. If we collectively fight for the restoration of our salaries’ purchasing power parity (US$540) as basic salary, we then can swim across the ocean. In the long run, a clear cut legal framework of negotiation under section 65 of the constitution is a panacea for our current challenges. Statutory Instrument 141 of 1997 has outlived it’s usefulness, is archaic, obsolete and moribund.


Dr Takavafira M. Zhou, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe

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