by Ashley Kondo
The move by Government to increase civil servants’ salaries should not be misconstrued as a political gimmick ahead of elections as it is a legitimate gesture.
There is no doubt that, the cost of living for most Zimbabweans has continued on an upward trend amid economic challenges and civil servants have not been spared from the harsh economic environment.
Over the years, prices of basic goods have continued to sky-rocket, while the cost of accessing some basic services have proven to be beyond the reach of many and civil servants have had to bear the brunt because of their low remuneration.
It cannot be disputed that on-the-job experience may carry a lot of value for most employers in both the private and public sector.
A certain level of knowledge will only come with experience, while tenure may demonstrates loyalty and dependability.
It could take Government years to train new personnel to fill the current positions in the public service sector and even then, there would be no guarantee the trained personnel would stick around.
For years civil servants have remained resolute in executing their duties in the mix of changing socio-economic and political factors.
Some have even assumed additional responsibilities that they have not been compensated for after Government moved to rationalise some posts in the public sector.
It may be recalled that, there has been a lot of debate over the country’s wage bill which was reported to be chewing more than 80 percent of the National Budget.
Subsequently, this led to the restructuring exercise which saw the abolition of some posts and trimming of staff across Government structures while in some cases, the remaining staff has had to work beyond the call of duty.
A comparison of Zimbabwean civil servants with regional counterparts from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa has shown that the former has been getting far much lesser remunerations.
South African high school teachers earn an average of US$1 062 per month depending on qualifications and experience, while in Namibia the highest paid teacher gets an average of US$1 536.
The same teacher in Botswana gets about US$705 per month.
Nurses in Botswana at entry level earn between US$806 and US$906 and those with degrees earn between US$1 108 and US$1 309.
Government doctors in South Africa earn an average monthly salary of US$3 582 per month.
In Namibia, doctors earn an estimated US$3120 per month with Zimbabwean doctors getting about US$729 net salary per month.
Registered nurses in South Africa earn an average of US$1 575 per month.
Nevertheless, Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes under the new dispensation have evidently showed positive signs of recovery.
Thus far, the annual economic growth rate has been reviewed upwards a couple of times from a low of 2.9 to a high of 4.5 due to promising investment commitments.
The 17.5 percent salary hike for civil servants would go a long way in curbing brain drain in various professions in the civil service.
The civil servants increment is also testimony of the improving national financial inflows born out of the raft measures that have been put in place by Government to plug leakages and amplify revenue inflows.
The development also marks the initial steps towards President Mnangagwa’s vision for Zimbabwe to attain middle income economy status by 2030 where the average per capita would be 3500.