Our hands are tied, Apex Council says


Mugove Tafirenyika

CIVIL servants’ representative body, the Apex Council, says it cannot help its members to access their US$75 Covid-19 monthly allowance as it is in the dark regarding how it should be accessed, the Daily News reports.

This comes amid reports that the government indicated on civil servants’ pay slips last month that it had paid them US$150 for June and July yet in reality only US$75 was deposited into their accounts last month.

Apex Council secretary-general David Dzatsunga told the Daily News yesterday that since the allowance was imposed by the government outside normal negotiation channels it was difficult for them to follow up on the challenges civil servants were facing in accessing it.

“When we last met the government in June it offered the Covid-19 allowance, but we said we cannot speak on it as we had not negotiated for it. We then said it was up to the government because in our world everything that we are paid should be a product of the national joint negotiating forum.

“Now we have discovered the allowance is a stone in the shoe in terms of accessing it. Furthermore, we were only paid for one month yet we were made to believe it was for three months starting June, but again we cannot follow up,” Dzatsunga said.

Civil servants who received their allowances have been failing to utilise it because shops were saying no system had been put in place for transaction, while some employees were yet to be issued with bank cards by financial institutions.

Last month, the Public Service Commission (PSC) said the foreign currency allowances would not be disbursed in notes, but civil servants will use their nostro bank account electronic cards to purchase items.

The government promised to pay civil servants a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$75, while pensioners from the civil service would also get a flat non-taxable US$30 per month.

The challenges being faced by civil servants came despite that the government last month said it had agreed with both banks and shops on how to transact with the allowance.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the government had transferred the money to banks and civil servants and pensioners should be able to use it.

“Yes, the modalities for accessing the money have now been put in place. Banks were supposed to come up with ways to open accounts; that has been done that was the first step.

“The second step was to make sure retailers are able to receive payments for goods and services, so that has been put in place. Please note that there has been progress and that allowance is tax-free as previously announced and we will capture that in the Finance Bill,” Ncube said.


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