HARARE, July 6 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s government, under pressure from its striking employees and an increasingly restive populace which staged the country’s biggest protest in over a decade , on Tuesday announced it would bring forward, by a week, deferred June salary payments for state doctors and nurses.
The announcement by the Health Services Board that the payments, which were initially slated for July 14, would now be made on July 8, come against the backdrop of a nationwide boycott called by grassroots activists to protest against President Robert Mugabe and his administration’s handling of a worsening economic crisis.
Many schools and businesses – including banks and shops — did not open for business across the country as vast sections of the population heeded the call to boycott, adding to the pressure brought by a strike by government workers, which started on Tuesday to protest against the late payment of June salaries.
The government, which is struggling to maintain its budget in the face of declining revenues in a sluggish economy, defaulted on the June salaries for the bulk of the civil service, only managing to pay the security forces last month after a two week delay.
“Further to our earlier communication where we advised that the June 2016 salaries for health workers would be paid on 14 July 2016, please be advised that Treasury has informed us that salaries for health workers for the month of June 2016 will now be paid on 8 July 2016,” reads a July 6 memo written to the Ministry of Health’s permanent secretary by the Health Services Board, which handles the sector’s remuneration.
It was not immediately clear if the health workers, whose strike has paralysed operations at state hospitals, would end their strike. Union leaders said they were consulting their members over the latest move by government.