As per custom in years gone by, employees were always given a 13th cheque at the end of the year, not only as gratitude for work done throughout the year, but also as a morale booster for the year to come.
As things tightened over the recent years, a new multi-currency regime, bank closures, job losses, company closures and a liquidity crunch among a host of other factors, companies have needed to re-think the strategy of just paying a bonus when it is not related to performance.
That line of thinking even reached our Government, when in April this year, the Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa announced that civil servants’ bonuses were suspended until 2017. A wise move, so we thought. But less than a week later, the ‘Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces‘ President Robert Mugabe at Independence celebrations stated that there wasn’t such a policy in place and civil servants would get their bonus as usual.
Assurances were made early November that the payments would be made, but after soldiers got paid their salaries, minus the 13th cheque (even though it was reflected on their payslips) the Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa stepped in to reassure government workers that there was no shift in position and the money will come.
Government is now in a precarious situation, that sees them having to source funding for not only a bloated wage bill, but also a potential humanitarian crisis brought about by a poor rainy season. Figures of nearly $250m have been mentioned, of what it will take to pay bonuses, a repeat of last year’s payment time frame looks highly likely, staggered well into April as finances are just not available.
A bloated workforce makes it difficult for multi-lateral institutions keen on re-engaging President Robert Mugabe after a decade and a half of frosty relations as they have indicated that government’s wage bill was unsustainable and would need to be dealt with. Though the Chinese were here recently, the money coming in from them is tired to specific purposes and agreements, essentially meaning that government will have to dig deep and pull a rabbit out a hat for this one.
The government looks to be damned if they do, and damned if they don’t pay.
Main Image Credit: Fingaz.co.zw