“For the month of January we have only collected US$64 million and we are supposed to pay $101 million [public sector wage bill]. Where we are going to get the money to close the gap? I don't know. I have made it very clear that we can only eat what we have killed and no more or no less."What makes this all far, far worse, is the estimation that the pathetic wages for non-political public sector employees (education and medical care in particular) simply don't come close to covering the cost of living, and that may well put the Unions in the streets. Here's their argument:
Public sector unions are threatening a national strike and have refused an 18-26 percent salary increase offer by government that would increase the lowest-paid worker's monthly income from $128 to $160. The unions are demanding a minimum monthly wage of $500.(Fair disclosure: I'm no fan of public employee unions, generally, and I certainly think the Statist practices of making so many jobs in countries in much of Southern Africa public employees distorts the economy. That said...)
The Zimbabwe Consumer Council told IRIN the cost of living for a low-income family of six in January 2011 was $503.40.
...the Unions likely have a very good claim there. What makes this particularly ugly is that there is simply no way to pay for that under the current regime. Even *if* the Unity government had any real authority, it couldn't make money appear from the ruins of the economy as it stands in any short term. The only way, *the only way* for the government to be able to provide a modest standard of living for public sector workers will be if the people can restore the economy to any real productivity... and that can't happen with any part of the ZANU-PF in a position to keep stealing.
T. Biti, as part of the Oppos in Unity, has a rather precarious position to defend, I grant you. But he's sounding like a battered wife these days...
"We [the unity government] have also failed in many areas, with the slow pace of democratic delivery, the slow pace of constitutional development, the slow pace of security sector reform - all those things are failures," Biti said.Pathetic, isn't it?
"This [the unity government] agreement has been very difficult. Whether it will lead to the collapse of the agreement I don't know. It is like a marriage. The husband can be cheating, but it does not necessarily mean it will end in divorce," he said.
The time is well past to end this charade.