SW Radio Africa (London)

Tererai Karimakwenda

26 January 2012

One of Zimbabwe’s most outspoken union leaders has accused the government of forcing desperately underpaid public sector workers into corrupt activities, by failing to take care of their needs.

The Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Raymond Majongwe, on Thursday blasted the coalition government, including the MDC formations, for failing to work out a plan to increase the basic wages for struggling civil servants.

Talks between the workers’ Apex Council, and government broke down Wednesday after it was revealed that $240 million is all that was available for government workers. This meant $7 per month more in wages, when they are asking for at least $288 more. The offer was described as “an insult.”

“We cannot pretend like we don’t know there is money in this country. The gold, platinum chrome, diamonds,” Majongwe explained, adding: “And who else is better placed to know. We have people here who are working at the treasury, working in government setups. We know.”

Majongwe blasted the MDC-T for being part of a coalition government despite having no control over anything. He explained that this is not what government is all about and no-one should put themselves in such a position.

“Nobody controls anything. Even all these MDC ministers. They’ve got positions but don’t control anything. We don’t want people masquerading as ministers when they are not,” Majongwe fumed.

He criticized Finance Minister Tendai Biti for statements he made last year, claiming that millions of dollars in diamond revenue were not making it to the treasury.

“It’s not our job to resource track. Biti is accepting that there is money and we don’t care whether it comes from his coffers, his pockets or the treasury,” Majongwe said.

He added: “You cannot become part of government then say this is outside my hands, I have no control. We don’t want figureheads who drive flashy cars but don’t control anything.”

Majongwe then turned his criticisms to the Public Service Minister, Lucia Matibenga, who reportedly failed to attend crucial meetings scheduled for Wednesday, as she was attending to other ministerial duties.

“We have always criticized every other minister using exactly the same words. And we have not had kind words for people who are lazy. We’ve not had kind words for people who don’t want to consult us,” Majongwe said.

Contacted for comment, Minister Matibenga would not conduct an interview but said she had released a statement because people were attacking her personally.

Meanwhile more public sector workers are expected to join the ongoing strike by Friday. Another round of negotiations is scheduled for next Tuesday.

AllAfrica – All the Time

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