By Shingirai Vambe
Civil servants will still face a gloomy festive season this year despite a USD $200 bonus cheque from the government amid price increases across the board.
Civil servants basic salaries remained flat, averaged within the ZWL $24 000 band ahead of a schools reopening in three weeks time and other expenses associated with January period.
“I have rentals and fees to pay. Basically, christmas festivities have been cancelled,” said one civil servant who spoke to this publication.
Authorities have grappled with taming the exchange rate movement, which is the major driver of inflation in the country as prices in local currency are indexed using the parallel market rate of the USD.
Currently, the ZWL is trading at 200 against the USD on the parallel market against the official rate of 108.
For the greater part of the year, civil servants have been at loggerheads with their employer over poor wages.
According to Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa, the 13th cheque will not be effective given that civil servants will still earn a paltry salary in local currency at a time the economy has redollarised.
“This shows the inconsistencies with our government. They (civil servants) cant be suffering for 11 months and be happy for one month. Government should give workers good salaries, enough to cater for their basic needs and savings,” said Mliswa .
Thi year’s festive season will therefore be another non-event for most civil servants and the generality of the nation as the economy continues to tumble.
With the effects of the current 4th Covid-19 wave on the economy and on livelihoods still uncertain in the months to come, prospects of the new year remain hanging.
This has had a bearing on spending patterns during this year’s festive period as consumers tend to hold on to their money instead of spending.
The effects of this is being witnessed in some banks that are starting to experience cash shortages.
“We get our money either from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe or the retail sector which we do not keep but service our clients through withdrawals,” said AFC Holdings spokesperson, Joseph Mverecha in an interview.
AFC holdings has for weeks now facing ZWL cash for withdrawals in some of their banks across the country.
This shortage has led to lengthy queues at banking halls raising concerns of spreading the Covid-19 virus.
Parliamentary Public Accounts Chairperson, Hon Brian Dube told Post On Sunday that, this is evident that the country is in a deep crisis, failing to give people cash in local currency and long queues in the previous week of USD bonuses.
Dube further highlighted on disgruntled civil servants who were shocked to get not more than USD $200 after having been promised more than $500.