Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Business as Usual, Zimbabwe Government Tells Workers
July 6, 2016
Herald Reporters

Government says civil servants and other workers should report for duty today as usual and refuse to be used by malcontents seeking to destabilise the country.

Agents of illegal regime change have tried to exploit delayed civil servants salary payments and are circulating messages on social media, inciting people to demonstrate against the Government starting today.

Their messages, which had inflammatory language, urged people to stop reporting for work or risk having their cars and household properties burnt.

Some of the messages yesterday threatened parents against sending their children to school.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said normal teaching and learning would continue today as usual.

Acting Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Joseph Made weighed in saying Government was addressing civil servants’ concerns.

This comes as Zimbabweans have already pre-empted today’s protests saying it would be business as usual to avoid revenue losses.

Most workers who have ventured into the informal sector said they would not be used by anti-Government forces and civic society organisations angling to foment social unrest.

Civil servants’ representatives, who began a two-day job action yesterday over salary delays, distanced themselves from today’s protests.

They urged their members not to be part of the protests.

Dr Dokora urged parents, line managers, teachers and valued stakeholders to ignore the stayaway calls.

“The Government has affirmed that the education sector will be paid on July 7,” he said.

“The ministry wishes to reassure all our teachers and learners that necessary measures have been taken to ensure normalcy in all our school institutions.

“As a ministry, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to offer quality education for the socio-transformation and any disruption to the learning calendar is counter-productive.”

Dr Made said: “What is important is that Government is fully aware of people who want to take advantage of the civil servants in terms of the position of the payment of their salaries as announced by the Minister of Finance and Development (Patrick Chinamasa).

“The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare through its acting Minister (Supa Mandiwanzira) has categorically stated that it is negotiating with civil services representatives. The appeal by Government is that no one should be taken advantage of. They should come to work as usual knowing that Government is seized with the issue of their salaries.”

Dr Made urged people to ignore falsehoods being peddled through the social media.

He said Zimbabweans should rely on conventional media on any information relating to Government operations.

“The social media has taken to total falsehoods and lies. For example, there are even issues to do with curfews,” he said.

“There is absolutely nothing like that. Zimbabweans must go about their business because that is total fabrication. There are those that we are aware of that want to put Zimbabwe in bad light. We are addressing our challenges and as we are succeeding in that, our detractors are trying to use some of our people in such a negative way.”

Informal traders interviewed yesterday said by staying away from their work places, they “would be stabbing ourselves in the back.”

“Most of us are now indigenous businesspeople and we will be destroying our livelihoods if we don’t report for duty,” said Mr Amos Mbewe.

“It is not Government that suffers and these people should take their political stunts elsewhere. They have tried this before and we don’t see it working. These actions in the end will prove to be counter- productive.”

Added Mr Succeed Tiki: “The timing of the protests simply tell you that there is a hidden hand behind. These people always want to capitalise on certain developments and I do not think normal people will be swayed by destructive minds.”

Meanwhile, teachers and nurses yesterday said they would only resume work when their salaries were paid.

Teachers expect their June salaries tomorrow while the health sector would be paid on July 14.

Apex Council team leader, Mrs Cecilia Alexander said: “The Council informs the employer and the nation that the current civil service job action is completely non-political and non-partisan and should in no way be associated with the cause by other political and social groups whose agendas have nothing to do with our labour disputes with Government.

“May it also be noted that civil servants are staying at home not in the streets as a result of incapacitation. The Apex Council regrets the coincidences and timing. Our action will run its full course as advised up to July 7.”

A survey by The Herald in most parts of Harare yesterday revealed that teachers had reported for duty but were not working.

In some schools, teachers did not turn up for classes.

In Beitbridge district, teachers downed tools, but it was business as usual at church run institutions.

Interviewed teachers said they were simply complying with the directives they received from their respective unions.

In Government hospitals patients were left stranded after nurses and doctors stayed away over the salary delays.

The situation was dire at Harare and Chitungwiza Central Hospitals where the outpatients department was manned by student nurses.

“The issue is that doctors are incapacitated to go to work. They can only return to work when they are fully paid their June salaries,” said a source from the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association.

In Chinhoyi, most nurses did not report for duty at all the six Government hospitals while others came to work in casual attire.

Support staff including canteen attendants and groundsmen among others did not go to work.

Provincial medical director Dr Wenceslaus Nyamayaro confirmed the situation saying contingency measures have been put in place to provide help to critical cases.

“We can confirm that services at Government hospitals have been interrupted but measures have been put in place to ensure that serious cases are left unattended,” he said.

Health and Child Care secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji said his ministry was seeking assistance from the Zimbabwe National Army.

“It has come to our attention that health workers might not report for duty in their numbers due to the call by the APEX for a stay away with effect from the 5th of July 2016 due to nonpayment of salaries,” reads Dr Gwinji’s letter to Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga.

“Contingency measures have been put in place to operate with limited staff. Assistance is required from the Defence Forces to augment coverage for emergency services especially in Central Hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo. The requested staff includes doctors, nurses and medical laboratory scientists.”

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