Harare – Zimbabwe's government has reportedly shot down Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa's cost cutting measures which included cutting down salaries and bonuses for at least two years, the state-owned Herald newspaper reports.
In a series of fiscal undertakings, Chinamasa recently said that the government was planning on cutting its budget deficit by reducing the number of its workforce by at least 25 000, while also reducing the allowance and salaries of top government officials, including those of cabinet ministers.
Chinamasa also admitted that Mugabe's administration was broke and was unable to pay civil servants.
The minister also revised the economic growth rate from the projected 2.7% to 1.2%, blaming the decline on an ongoing regional drought, investment shortfalls and a perennial cash crunch.
But assuring government workers on Tuesday, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Christopher Mushohwe said that Chinamasa's plan had not been approved by President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet.
Mushowe said that state workers should continue expecting their bonuses in December.
"After extensive deliberations, cost cutting measures relating to the civil service were rejected and the position of cabinet is that the minister of finance and economic development did not take into account the rejection by cabinet earlier. Once again, at the last cabinet of September 12, 2016 the proposals were rejected," Mushohwe was quoted as saying.
Mushohwe's remarks came amid threats by doctors regarding the planned civil servants retrenchments.
According to NewsDay, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZDHA) warned that government’s proposed "one-size-fit-all" civil service reforms, were going to be resisted by the health sector workers.
The doctors association said that the proposed austerity measures were further going to demoralised the already over worked health professionals.
"Any thoughts on reduction of health workers' numbers can never be entertained,” ZDHA was quoted as saying in a statement.
Reports indicated that this is not the first time that the finance minister has crossed swords with the government.
Late last year, Chinamasa was dealt a similar blow by Mugabe after announcing that the government would cut the 13th cheque.
Mugabe, at the time, reversed Chinamasa's decision, saying: "l want to make it clear that the report which was in the newspaper that bonuses that were being withdrawn is not government policy. The cabinet did not approve that at all."
- News 24