FinMin Permanent Secretary Disputes Claim Biti Paid US$540 to Civil Servants During GNU; says it was actually half that amount

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By Alois Vinga


Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga said on Monday that current salaries for civil servants in the country are well above the US$540 granted at the height of the dollarized era of the National Unity Government (GNU).

He made the remarks during a press conference to announce economic stability measures where he argued that based on current exchange rates, civil servants are currently better paid.

“I would also like to dispel another idea that has been widely shared, which is that before, during the time of the national unity government, the minimum wage was $540 a month,” said the former director general of Barclays Bank.

“That’s also not correct, because we know that at the time the exchange rate in the market was US$1: ZW$2,500.

“So if you want to calculate the right amount in US dollars, you have to get that US$540 and divide it by ZW$2,500 to get the actual salary in US dollars.

“If you take the $175,000 that we currently pay at $60,000 as the minimum wage, we are not even far from what civil servants were receiving at that exact moment.

“We also converted that to 1:1, but well aware of the fact that at that time there was an exchange rate in the market and the real value was around $200 in the market. C was 540 US dollars divided by 2,500 Zimbabwean dollars,” he said.

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The Treasury Secretary has also criticized representatives of public service unions for continually falsifying the fact that they currently earn only a very small amount of money, while deliberately avoiding mention that they also receive an allowance. of $175.00.

“Even if we were to base current wages on combined allowances in US dollars and Zim$ components against the latest poverty lines, you would find that we are paying well over Z$100,000,” he said.

However, Guvamatanga’s remarks are flying in the face of government employees who are currently demanding payment in US dollars or a minimum of what they held at US$540,000 immediately before dedollarization in 2019.

The statement immediately drew a backlash from former finance minister Tendai Biti who held the reins during the GNU era because he claimed there had never been an exchange rate.

“The suggestion that there was an exchange rate in 2013 is so crazy. It cannot be made by a senior official. A parallel exchange rate will not fully emerge until 2018 when the currency of substitution that we call the RTGS$ or the Bond Note,” he said.

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