By NQOBANI NDLOVU/ LORRAINE MUROMO
HEALTH professionals have expressed disgruntlement after some of them allegedly received their bonuses in local currency while other civil servants were struggling to access their 13th cheques at local banks yesterday.
There were long queues at several banks as frustrated civil servants struggled to withdraw their 13th cheque.
Civil servants have started receiving their 13th cheque in US dollars capped at US$700, with those earning above the limit set to receive the balance in local currency.
But the Health and Child Care ministry on Wednesday said there was an administrative blunder which resulted in health professional’s receiving theirs in local currency.
Health professionals were not amused by the slip-up.
A memo dated December 1, from the Health and Child Care ministry human resources director Edson Mundenda addressed to hospital chief executives confirmed the blunder, but blamed it on health professionals not having forex accounts.
“Please be advised that bonus payment for 2021 started with effect from November 30, 2021. However, it has been noted that some members did not have nostro accounts and their money was credited into their Zimdollar accounts or the money was still in suspense accounts,” Mundenda said.
“The members must verify with their banks so that the money will be transferred from Zimdollar accounts to nostro accounts or their nostro accounts be activated.”
The letter was addressed to the chief executive officers of Parirenyatwa, Mpilo, Sally Mugabe, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH), Ingutsheni and Chitungwiza hospitals and was copied to provincial medical directors.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Enock Dongo yesterday described the blunder as disheartening.
“We are not sure what is happening and the challenge is that the ministry is not willing to engage with health workers. We don’t have any information on how this is going to be rectified,” Dongo said.
“Government has played its part, but the component which is missing is that of engagement. The efforts of the government are being pulled down by the ministry and the Health Services Board (HSB). This is a big demotivator; there is a lot of disgruntlement among health workers,” he said.
Meanwhile, civil servants, who spoke to NewsDay, described the bonuses as paltry after being paid between US$140 to US$240. Some banks were giving civil servants amounts ranging from US$50 to US$100 only while others failed, a survey by NewsDay revealed.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union president Obert Masaraure said: “The money has reflected in our accounts, but teachers are now battling to access it from banks where very long queues have resurfaced.
“Our banking sector should be functional and civil servants must not struggle to access their money. There are also ridiculous banking charges.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou added: “There is a whole lot of confusion over bonus. The majority of teachers have not received any message that the bonus is now in their respective bank accounts, and we are wondering what challenges could have been faced by their banks.
“A few teachers reportedly received their full bonuses of $254 yesterday. The erratic disbursement was causing unnecessary expenses to teachers, anxiety and worry to many of those that have not yet accessed their bonuses,” Zhou said.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo also confirmed the difficulties experienced in accessing the US dollars bonuses
“The situation on the ground indicates that the employer released some funds, but there are some civil servants who are facing difficulties. However, the delay might be with systems in various banks where some nostro accounts take time to reflect,” Moyo said.
Unions representing civil servants said government had shown that it had capacity to pay civil servants in foreign currency despite, but refusing to award them US dollar-based salaries.
Civil servants have been pushing for US dollar salaries, but the government has been pleading incapacity.