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Are the MDCs now in the gravy train?

 

The optimism was understandable as Zanu PF had from 1987 run the country as a one-party state, largely ignoring the plight of the impoverished workforce.

MDC had also been formed by people who had been championing the rights of workers for years as an offshoot of the Congress of Zimbabwe Trade Unions (ZCTU).

But two years after they were given a chance to be in government, the two MDC factions are still to deliver on their promises to restive workers, especially civil servants.

The parties came under serious scrutiny last week following revelations that ministers, MPs and senators had given themselves huge salary increases in January while putting a June deadline to review those of civil servants.

A minister now earns an average of US$2 300 a month while civil servants get less than US$200.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera described the salary increment as the “height of arrogance” by the inclusive government.

He said the salary review had also rendered government’s often repeated excuse that Treasury had no capacity to pay meaningful salaries to civil servants invalid.

“I don’t have any kind words for the two MDC formations,” Mangongera said. “It just shows that they are now part of the gravy train.

“It used to be a labour-driven party but by ignoring the plight of government workers, it shows that they are no longer standing for the rights of the worker.”

He said it did not come as a surprise that the ministers and MPs silently gave themselves huge perks as soon after they were elected they started demanding luxury cars.

In 2009, MPs from the three parties rejected locally-assembled vehicles and demanded US$30 000 each to import luxury cars.

 

Zanu PF blames Biti for paying ministers before civil servants

National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the two MDC formations were merely showing their true colours.

“The MDC parties have not sold out the struggle of the poor but they are simply showing their true colours,” he said.

“The time they have spent in government is too long for them to have done nothing for the poor.”

Madhuku also believes that Zanu PF had succeeded in turning the MDC politicians into capitalists.

John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer said the two MDC formations should have contested the awarding of salary increases to ministers, MPs and Senators before the majority of civil servants got something.

Makumbe said the MDC factions had now taken a leaf from Zanu PF on how to keep the politicians happy while ignoring the plight of the poor.

“We are not saying civil servants should be paid the US$2 000 the ministers are getting but at least award the ministers a fair wage which the poor will say is fair, not 10 or 20 times more than what they are getting,” Makumbe said.

“It’s like Zanu PF is still running the country on its own. The ministers of Finance (Tendai Biti), Public Service (Eliphas Mukunoweshuro) are all MDC, how could they be all rail-roaded by Zanu PF?”

However, MDC deputy spokesperson Ku-rauone Chihwayi defended his party saying their ministers, MPs and senators accepted the increment on the understanding that Treasury had money to increase civil servants’ salaries.

“There is no reason why Biti is not increasing their salaries. We know the money is there,” he said.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said they were surprised that ministers had been given such a hefty increment ahead of civil servants and laid all the blame on MDC-T.

“Obviously we thought the money would be given to civil servants first since the issue has been topical and that Treasury would chip in with a symbolical amount, even if the money was not enough,” Gumbo said.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC-T spokesman claimed that the reports about the salary increases were not true.
This is despite the fact that The Standard has in its possession some payslips of ministers.

Chamisa said as a party they believed that government must first deal with the plight of civil servants before looking into the conditions of service for members of the executive.

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