By Staff Reporter
Mugabe said while sanctions had previously militated against efforts to improve government employees’ welfare, it cannot continue to be the reason for failure given the resources the country is endowed with.
“I will ensure that we don’t go back to the time of saying ah masanctions ndiwo ari kutitadzisa (sanctions are the reason why we are failing to pay civil servants),” said Mugabe.
“Maresources aripo (We have the resources), the gold sector for example, they are very easy to get money from unlike diamonds… With gold, we know the price of gold and must be sold to Fidelity.”
Civil servants were supposed to receive their February salaries backdated to January according to a pay deal they struck with government.
However, government has been shifting goal posts continuously.
Sanctions imposed on Mugabe’s government have been blamed by Zanu-PF as the reason for their failure to honour the promises they made in the run up to last year’s elections.
Zanu-PF has in the past blamed sanctions and its unity government partner, MDC, which was in charge of the Finance ministry, for failing to award civil servants salary increments.
But on Friday Mugabe said his government will re-organise the gold industry. He urged illegal gold dealers to get licensed and operate within the confines of the law.
He revealed that a lot of gold was being smuggled out of the country particularly to South Africa whose mineral resources he said were rapidly dwindling.
Mugabe also said government was mulling kicking out some gold mining companies to allow government to take over.
“Iye zvino kwanga kuine twukomana tunogarira kuborder reSouth Africa nekuti vanenge vaudzwa kuti tichauya naro gold nguva dzakati (Now we have foreigners waiting at the border with South Africa to receive gold from their local networks).
“And they take it to South Africa because their own mines are so deep, kilometres and kilometres deep,” he said.
The nonagenarian added that civil servants had sacrificed a lot under difficult circumstances especially during the hyperinflationary period.
“I don’t know kuti makararama sei. Isu vamwe tine minda nemagarden (I don’t know how you made it. Some of us could fall back on our land), but there are some who depend solely on their salaries.
“It’s our wish to have all our workers adequately compensated for the hard work, not only hard work but sacrifice that you have made,” Mugabe said.
Civil servants make up the country’s largest workforce at about 230 000.