LEADERS of civil servants’ unions under the banner of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) on Tuesday met President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House in Harare where they begged him to intervene and resolve the plight of workers whose salaries have been eroded by currency volatility and inflation.
The delegation was led by ZCPSTU president Cecilia Alexander, who is also the Apex Council leader. She was accompanied by ZCPSTU secretary-general David Dzatsunga and organising secretary Charles Chinosengwa.
On the other hand, Mnangagwa had senior officials from State House and the Office of the President and Cabinet. In a circular to unions of government workers after the meeting, Alexander said Mnangagwa promised to attend to their grievances.
The circular read: “ZCPSTU met His Excellency the President Dr Cde E.D Mnangagwa today 6th of June 20223 at the State House to present issues meant to create enhanced labour harmony at the workplace. His Excellency took note of the issues presented and pledged to attend to them”.
An impeccable source told The NewsHawks that the trade unionists explained to Mnangagwa that they decided to take their issues directly to him because no meaningful results had emerged from their engagements with Public Sector minister Paul Mavhima and his Finance counterpart Mthuli Ncube.
“Basically, the leaders explained that government workers are suffering due to the galloping inflation but were not getting reciprocal reviews of their salaries to match the runaway foreign currency exchange rate. They explained that there is no harmony in government institutions because morale is at its lowest as the civil servants are suffering.
“The union leaders also explained that while there are formal platforms where issues to do with salaries of civil servants are discussed, the outcome has always been deadlock,” said the source.
Another official told The NewsHawks that while the trade union leaders expected immediate positive results from the meeting, they left saddened because Mnangagwa did not offer any short-term solution to their problems.
“Mnangagwa only said he was a listening President and he had heard their grievances. He said he would attend to their problems, but did not say when and how. The meeting therefore did not proffer any solution, which saddened the leaders of the unions,” said the official.
The source also told The NewsHawks that towards the end of the meeting, Dzatsunga and Chinosengwa raised the issue of charges laid against Alexander and begged Mnangagwa to intervene and have them dropped.
Alexander, who is the Public Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) board deputy chairperson, was arrested in April this year together with board chairperson Wellington Tutisa on charges of abusing US$900 000 and ZW$14 million from the entity as holiday allowances.
The matter is pending at the Harare magistrates’ court.
“They all begged that Mnangagwa intervene and have the charges dropped, but he did not give a direct answer. Instead, he kept on saying he is a listening President and he had taken note of the issues raised,” said the source.
In October last year, disgruntled Zanu PF members of Parliament also met Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga at State House over a similar matter of welfare.
They complained bitterly about their incapacitation due to erratic payment of salaries, allowances and the non-provision of fuel which they said was hindering their work and hampering visibility in their constituencies.
The legislators also complained bitterly over Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s perceived hostility towards them.
They made it clear to Mnangagwa and his deputy that they had visited the two Zanu PF leaders not as a form of revolt but to tell him that they were incapacitated and financially paralysed, such that they could not effectively work for the President in their constituencies.
They said the development was worrying ahead of the general elections.
Unlike in the latest episode which saw government employees leaving empty handed at State House, last year Finance minister Ncube was ordered to pay the MPs and he acted swiftly and some legislators received their money on that very day.