The decision by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to award salary increases to the security services sector a few weeks before this month’s crucial election is a stark reminder of how far the ruling Zanu-PF party can go in bending rules of the game just to remain in power.
It is regrettable that the latest electioneering came shortly after government rolled out another controversial farm inputs distribution programme several months before the start of the rainy season. Doesn’t that raise a stink?
Granted, civil servants’ salary increment was long overdue, but what raises the eyebrows is the timing of the upwards review and the fact that the percentage increase is not uniform for all civil servants.
Soldiers got a 22,5 % increase while police received 20%, yet teachers and the rest of the civil servants received 17%. And the criteria used in coming up with these different figures is anyone’s guess.
Was it coincidental that a few hours after the upward revision of their remuneration the police and the military were immediately summoned to Ross Camp in Bulawayo, and other camps across the country to cast their ballot under the postal ballot system, which process was also closely monitored by their bosses?
Looked at in isolation, this could be a welcome development for the long-suffering security forces whose salaries have been harshly eroded by the multi-pricing regime which has become part of our economy.
However, when other factors come to play such as the timing of the announcement of the allowance, it becomes clear that this was a vote-buying gimmick to pacify the increasingly restive security services sector ahead of the polls.
Teachers have already justifiably raised the red flag, accusing Mnangagwa of favouritism in the manner he has gone about cherry-picking sectors that he thinks deserve a better salary hike.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association accused the government of devaluing all professions that have nothing to do with State security and safeguarding the levers of political power.
We have no choice, but to agree with Zimta that after profusely insisting and swearing that the government had no resources to fund teachers’ leave payments on a once-off payment and failure to commit on pay modalities, the government clearly demonstrated disregard for teachers and has to date failed to say how their leave days will be liquidated.
With Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa claiming that Treasury had inadequate cash inflows to sustain its already heavy salary bill, it boggles the mind how Mnangagwa hopes to suddenly find resources to meet the additional salary burden wrought by the current increases.
Clearly, this is a clear indicator that the Zanu-PF-led regime is punching above its weight just to retain power given that the army has been for long their guarantors of power.
It’s clear that if Zec wanted to play its constitutional role and demand fairness in the polls, it could have charged Zanu-PF with contravening provisions of the Electoral Act which forbid vote-buying.
However, since Zec appears to have chosen to take sides with Zanu-PF, we pray that every effort must be made to limit any practices that may potentially undermine the credibility, freeness and fairness of the crucial elections.
Mnangagwa has pledged to deliver a free, fair and credible poll which is the gateway to Zimbabwe finding its rightful place in the family of nations, but it would appear it’s just talk and no action.
We, therefore, call on the President to ensure he keeps to his word and prove his critics wrong despite being held back by some of his top bureaucrats angry over being side-lined by the supposedly new dispensation. Still that’s his problem, citizens demand fairness.