Mugabe had announced while in Ethiopia that government employees, whom he said were paid less than his farm workers, would get an increment after a third diamond auction raked in US$250 million.
But the president’s spokesman George Charamba was singing a different tune on Friday saying the money was not ready.
“Civil servants will get their money once the money is there,” he said in an interview.
“You should understand that we are in a conflict with the KP (Kimberley Process) and so we can’t easily sell our diamonds but we have to find our own alternative markets.
“There is such a thing as backdating and once the diamonds have been sold, civil servants will have their money backdated and paid to them.”
He said Mugabe’s statements were merely meant to give direction to ministers responsible for the welfare of civil servants.
“What the president said shows the direction ministers have to follow,” Charamba said.
Public Service minister, Elphas Mukonoweshuro said his ministry was still waiting for additional funding before it could review the salaries.
Mugabe’s promise has opened a can of worms as Finance minister Tendai Biti says treasury was not aware of the third auction and had not received any money.
The veteran ruler said Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu had informed him about the auction.
Mpofu also claimed he had received a letter from Biti acknowledging receipt of the money.
Civil servants earn an average of US$200 a month and government says it does not have money to improve their working conditions.
But the long-awaited payroll and skills audit carried out by Ernst and Young (India) on behalf of the Ministry of Public Service has shown that government has been splashing money on 75 000 ghost workers every month.
Government has 188 019 workers and critics say if the ghost workers were removed from the payroll, civil servants would be paid decent salaries from the current budget.