Thursday, January 2, 2014

Outcry as broke Zimbabwe Government scraps allowances

Government has stopped paying monthly skills retention allowances of between US$150 and US$400 to magistrates, law officers, prosecutors and other legal officers in various ministries and departments.
Many lawyers employed by Government have since 2011 been getting the monthly allowance under the skills retention fund and they had started viewing these as part of their normal packages.
The allowance was introduced at a time when lawyers were leaving Government for the private sector.
That allowance was largely credited with ending strikes by magistrates and prosecutors in and around 2011.
In a circular signed by Civil Service Commission secretary Mrs Pretty Sunguro, Government cited financial challenges as the reason for the failure to continue paying the allowances.
“Please be advised that Treasury has indicated that owing to the financial challenges Government is facing, it can no longer continue sustaining the Skills Retention Fund.
“Kindly please advise all the recipients in your ministry that the allowance has been ceased forthwith. The allowance will be resuscitated as soon as the funds become available,” read the circular dated December 8, 2013.
The circular was sent to 13 ministries, including Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; Sports, Arts and Culture; Mines and Mining Development; Home Affairs; and Transport and Infrastructure Development.
Legal officers who spoke to The Herald on condition of anonymity confirmed the development, saying they last received the allowance in October.
“We last got the money in October last year and it is seriously affecting us because we were now used to receiving it. Since October, we have not received the money and the allowance had become part of our working conditions.
“Even our monthly budgets were crafted with consideration of the allowances we used to receive and we do not know how we are going to adjust,” said one legal officer.
Magistrates’ Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Donald Ndirowei said he was yet to get official communication from the Judicial Service Commission.
“We heard about it but we cannot comment because that has not yet been officially communicated to us. We are yet to be officially informed of the position and it is too early for me to comment,” he said.
In 2011, the Government stopped paying retention allowances to lecturers at State-run polytechnics and colleges.
The lecturers had been getting US$100 as retention allowance since 2009, which has since been replaced by a “production policy”.
The lecturers say the policy requires them to do menial jobs to get any extra payment from Government.
The retention allowance helped bring back hundreds of lecturers who had deserted colleges at the height of hyperinflation.
Source: Herald

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