The meeting between the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya and representatives of the civil servants last Wednesday confirmed the importance of regular engagement between employers and their employees. The civil servants who are expected to be paid tomorrow their December salaries, were contemplating downing tools to protest against the delayed payment of salaries but after the meeting with Governor Mangudya they concluded that there was no need for a premature industrial action.
The civil servants’ representatives said the RBZ Governor gave details of the state of the economy and what government has in its coffers. Governor Mangudya explained the reasons for the delays in paying salaries. Mangudya assured the civil servants that the government will pay bonuses as promised but could not give dates. The message from the outcome of the Wednesday meeting is that it is dangerous for employers to keep workers in the dark regarding the issue to do with financial challenges they might be facing.
Workers would appreciate the challenges facing the employer if these challenges are brought to their attention. The government as the biggest employer should keep lines of communication between itself and the civil servants open. Workers should be engaged regularly so that they appreciate the challenges that the government is facing.
Civil servants have since independence been paid their salaries every month and the annual bonuses between November and December. It was only in 2014 that payment of bonuses was delayed to April 2015 in some cases. Government is yet to pay the 2015 bonuses. What is clear from the latest developments is that the government is not collecting enough revenue to meet its financial obligations such as payment of salaries and bonuses.
This is what the civil servants should understand and appreciate. Government coffers are no longer bottomless as was the case in the past. There is therefore urgent need to boost government coffers by attracting Foreign Direct Investment so that there are more companies paying taxes.
Resources should be mobilised to revive industries while at the same time coming up with incentives to attract new investors. Civil servants on their part should work hard to make Zimbabwe an investment of first choice in the region and beyond. It should no longer be business as usual if the country is to attract new investors.