CIVIL servants and pensioners will be smiling all the way to the bank after Government extended their US$75 Covid-19 allowances indefinitely.
The Covid-19 allowances had become a huge chunk of the civil servants’ salaries and their removal would have resulted in them feeling a huge difference come payday.
The development comes as Government is considering making the Covid-19 allowances a permanent feature on salaries to cushion its workers against the effects of the pandemic which is negatively affecting the economy.
Government has said that it is committed to continuously improving the working conditions of civil servants.
Since June last year, Government has been paying its workers US$75 allowances, and pensioners US$30 to cushion them against economic challenges aggravated by Covid-19.
The Covid-19 allowance was supposed to be last paid in December last year.
Employees under the Health Services Board (HSB) are also getting an additional $3 700 risk allowance while teachers are getting an additional 10 percent risk allowance.
Already, the HSB has communicated with its constituency on the extension of the US$75 allowance.
Reads part of the communication directed to the president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association Mr Enock Dongo from HSB executive director Ms Ruth Kaseke: “Please be advised that Treasury has extended the payment of Covid-19 allowance equivalent to US$75 until further review which will be guided by the status of the pandemic and financial affordability.”
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima yesterday confirmed the extension of the Covid-19 allowance for civil servants until further notice.
He said the Government was alive to the needs of its employees and will always be conscious of them when resources permit.
“We said right at the beginning that as an employer we felt the need to pay our employees such an allowance to cushion them against the hardships brought about by Covid-19. Such an amount that we have been giving them as an employer has become a very considerable chunk on their salaries and they were benefiting a lot. That is why the Government has decided to extend this allowance from this month henceforth,” said Prof Mavima.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Mr Enock Dongo said the Government is spot on in extending the allowances for civil servants and pensioners.
“This time the Government is spot on in extending the allowances. We thought they would end in December and this is a welcome development for us as civil servants. We are also getting a $3 700 extra risk allowance and we are asking the Government to review it as we are facing another wave of Covid-19 which is worse that the first wave,” he said.
Mr Dongo said health workers deserve the Covid-19 allowance as they are the frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic.
“We are worried about our safety and health and we are appealing to our employer for adequate PPEs.
We strongly feel that no health worker should die due to lack and proper and adequate personal protective equipment,” he said.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (Zimta) chief-executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu also commended Government for sticking to its promises.
“Government has been sincere and keeping its promises and this is a welcome development. We are grateful for the Covid-19 allowances and the 10 percent risk allowance.
“We agreed with the Government last year as we waited for the new salary negotiations which should commence this month,” he said.
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Unions (ZCPSTU) vice secretary general Mr Gibson Mushangu commended Government for keeping its promises on the allowances as they prepare to start new salary negotiations this month.
“Remember it was supposed to end around October last year and it was moved to the end of 2020 and now it has been extended again. It’s something we negotiated for last year and it’s going on as the Government is keeping its promise,” he said.
He appealed to Government to increase the allowance to around US$150 considering the increase in the cost of living.
Mr Mushangu said soon they will be engaging Government as National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) for the review of civil servants’ salaries.
“We still dream of being paid according to the value of salaries in October 2018,” he said.
In November, civil servants accepted a 41 percent salary increase by the Government, including allowances.
The development saw the least- paid civil servant earning about $14 500 while the lowest-paid teacher will earn a little over $18 000.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has repeatedly assured the nation that measures put in place to insulate the local currency against erosion, are sustainable with the auction system working very well to create a stable base, so inflation recedes as a serious problem.
But he has also stressed that while he wants to see civil servants properly rewarded, he needs to maintain the fiscal discipline that has created the basis for the new stability and the launchpad for sustained and viable economic growth.