Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has accused his Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa of running a parallel government by scrapping the annual bonuses for civil servants without consulting him.

Last week Chinamasa announced that the government will not pay annual bonuses to civil servants for the next two years because tax revenues were dwindling. But while addressing thousands of his followers during the country’s Independence Day celebrations at the weekend in Harare, Mugabe said Chinamasa decision was null and void and that civil servants will get their annual bonuses usually paid in November. “The presidency was never, never consulted on the matter; we were never consulted-the three of us, that is myself and the vice presidents,” said Mugabe. “We say that is disgusting to us and it will never, never be implemented at all. So, let the civil servants not be downhearted. That will not happen.”

Since Chinamasa became finance minister in July 2013, pay dates for public workers have repeatedly shifted, a clear indication the state coffers were depleted. Zimbabwe devotes $260 million to wages every month but hasn’t been helped by poor tax remittances. More Zimbabweans are in the economy’s informal sector where they do not pay taxes. This makes continuous payment of bonuses an unproductive duty for the government.

About 4,000 workers lost their jobs in 2014, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. This was supported by Chinamasa’s claim that 4,600 companies closed down between 2011 and October 2014, resulting in 64,000 job losses. Local economist Eddie Cross, who is also a member of Zimbabwe Parliament Committee on Finance and Economic Development, said unless something drastic happens 2015 will be another year of economic decline in Zimbabwe. “The situation is simply not sustainable unless we are going to accept this state of affairs as being inescapable and allow our general population to sink further into a quagmire of poverty and human degradation.”

By George Mpofu

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