The government last week failed to pay soldiers their annual bonus as announced, raising questions on whether the rest of the civil service will receive their 13th cheque, amid reports the State’s coffers were virtually dry.
To compound matters even further, Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira yesterday said she was unaware that soldiers had not received their bonuses, but this was a matter she would take up at today’s Cabinet meeting.
“I think the Finance ministry can give you an answer to that,” she said.
“Maybe they have a plan on that and I don’t know, but tomorrow (today), we will hear in Cabinet on that, so I will not know until tomorrow.”
Mupfumira referred further questions to her colleagues (today), Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Information minister Christopher Mushohwe.
Chinamasa’s phone went unanswered, while Mushohwe curtly said: “I am not aware of that. Are you sure they did not get the bonuses?”
Mupfumira was recently quoted saying government would pay bonuses to the army and police this month.
Last week, she promised that soldiers and police would get their bonuses first, while other civil servants would have theirs staggered.
Morale is reportedly low in army barracks following soldiers’ failure to get bonuses, although the figures were reflected on their payslips.
NewsDay is reliably informed the soldiers were shocked not to get anything or even communication on the subject.
“All our plans are in disarray, no bonuses as promised and no communication on when we will get the bonus,” a soldier said.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi said he was on leave and referred questions to acting spokesperson, Colonel Teddy Ndlovu, who requested questions in writing.
But sources said the government was in a fix as Chinamasa was battling to raise financial resources to meet the needs of government and to pay bonuses.
Others said there appeared to be fissures in the government over the matter.
Earlier this year, Chinamasa attracted a backlash from President Robert Mugabe, after he said it would be difficult to pay bonuses to government workers due to the failing economy.
He had announced the suspension of civil servants’ bonuses for the next two years in line with measures aimed at creating fiscal space to fund ZimAsset, the government’s much-vaunted economic blueprint.
Chinamasa had suggested then that the decision would be reviewed in 2017.
But Mugabe dismissed this saying the matter had not been discussed in Cabinet and bonuses were literally a right which was due to government employees.