Bongani Ndlovu/Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporters
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said he is touched by the plight of teachers and Government acknowledges that there is a need to improve civil servants’ remuneration.
The President said while Government is working to address civil servants’ income concerns, it is implementing policies that are against triggering hyper-inflation.
Hence, Government is working on providing non-monetary incentives to cushion its workers who provide critical services and are a vehicle towards attaining Vision 2030.
President Mnangagwa expressed commitment to address concerns of civil servants in a letter to Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu, who in April penned a letter to the Head of State.
Dr Ndlovu wrote to the President detailing challenges faced by teachers which he said needed urgent attention.
In a response to Dr Ndlovu, dated June 2, President Mnangagwa said he fully appreciates the concerns raised by the Zimta boss.
In an interview yesterday, Dr Ndlovu commended the President for being a listening leader, saying receiving a response from the country’s leader shows he is down in the trenches with citizens.
Chronicle is in possession of both the letter which was written to the President dated April 26 and his response.
Zimta is the largest teachers’ union in the country.
Wrote President Mnangagwa: “First and foremost, I would like to put it on record that Government acknowledges that the level of remuneration currently being given to teachers and other civil servants is inadequate, and is not what Government would wish to pay its workers under ideal circumstances. For that reason, Government will continue to explore ways to improve the welfare of the generality of civil servants, including teachers.
“You may, however, note that Government introduced policy measures to correct the inflationary tendencies that were wreaking havoc in the retail and transport sectors. Resultantly, Government interventions have seen inflation go down significantly, resulting therefore, in the growing high hope that the trend will continue going forward.”
The President said Covid-19 has affected Government programmes as it has led to depressed revenue inflows as a result of national lockdowns.
President Mnangagwa said despite those challenges, he has instructed ministries to come up with modalities that would result in the gradual improvement of civil servants’ salaries.
“You may also note that continuous increases in salaries fuel inflation, hence Government is exploring other non-monetary benefits for civil servants in order to complement salaries. These will target basic necessities of life. To this end, I have directed the Ministers of Finance and Economic Development and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to explore ways in which the conditions of service and welfare of Government workers can be improved,” said the President.
“I have further directed that there are compelling reasons to adjust teachers’ salaries as much as Government can possibly manage. Decisions thereafter will be communicated through the proper platforms in order to determine conditions of service in the Public Service.”
He said civil servants should also take note that while Government is addressing the wages concerns, it has to balance with providing social services.
“Government is cognisant that teachers, like any other workers, deserve living wages. The improvement of these salaries and other conditions of service should be looked at as a process, and not a once off event, and this should be guided by the budgetary framework.
Consideration should also be given to the fact that there is a need to balance employment costs and other priorities for our economy so as to facilitate the growth of the economy. These include infrastructure development, agricultural production, health, water, energy and social protection programmes,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said dialogue remains the best foot forward for the country and he is confident that the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC), which adjourned last April, will resume.
NJNC is a platform that brings civil servants’ bodies and Government under one roof to deliberate on issues affecting employees and how to tackle their matters.
President Mnangagwa commended civil servants for remaining committed to service even when the country battles to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Ndlovu hailed the President.
“It (getting a response) means that he is setting the appropriate tone or ecosystem for social dialogue. He is encouraging that there must be a give and take from both parties and at the same time he is showing that he is able to listen to those voices that are on the fringes of power and to us that is very welcome. We want to thank him for being accommodative and also responsive to issues,” said Dr Ndlovu.
“We have seen that he has shown serious commitment to dialogue which eventually will bring back NJNC and assure teachers that the issues would certainly be looked at. In other words, he singles out the educators and says something should be done on teachers because he acknowledges that while they will be looking at civil servants, there is a compelling evidence that teachers must be assisted, meaning that everybody involved the Finance, the Public Service, the teachers are being told get back to the table.”
Dr Ndlovu said engagements will bring lasting solutions to teachers’ plight. — @bonganinkunzi and @nqotshili