Editorial Comment

AS far as this country’s statutes are concerned, civil servants’ wages and benefits are not a secret to the extent that they should actually be published in the Government Gazette. It does not matter whose salary and benefits they are, from the President down to the lowest-paid public worker, their earnings should be publicly known.

It then comes as a huge surprise that government, through Treasury, appears to be clandestinely and unevenly awarding its workers. It appears it is favouring a few lucky one while the majority – who include doctors, nurses and teachers, are being left to stretch their meagre earnings beyond the impossible.

Revelations that the country’s magistrates have been awarded hefty salaries and allowances at a time the government is at odds with the bulk of its workforce over the same smacks of serious duplicity. And the chief magistrate’s attempts to conceal the deal and his disappointment that the information had leaked have exposed the government. The whole issue is an indictment on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s promise to promote transparency and good governance. Many questions are now emerging. What else is happening behind the scenes along government corridors?

Why is government using divide and rule tactics on its workforce? Why has the government decided to be so brazenly dishonest? Is it now a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing?

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What is also quite worrying about this issue is that in his letter to rebuke those who had leaked the secret salary award, the chief magistrate sounds as if what he and his principals have done is above board.

“I refer to my correspondence to all of you on Friday October 4, 2019. In that correspondence, I attached a schedule indicating the new structure of regional magistrates’ salaries and other allowances. I exhorted all of you to counsel colleagues to ensure that the information did not end up being distributed to persons who have nothing to do with it. Contrary to that exhortation and ethical conduct expected, I am advised that the information is awash on social media platforms.

Please, advise all regional magistrates that the Chief Justice and the secretary for Judicial Service Commission are both concerned about this lack of respect for the office of regional magistrate. I pray that this unreasonableness does not return to disadvantage magistrates in future remuneration discussions,” the chief magistrate is reported to have written.

So, what is ethical and just about this whole issue, if we may ask? We would have thought, being the custodians of the rule of law, the judiciary would not be swayed to accept under the table wage and allowance offers. We expect better conduct from our judiciary and we never thought they would stoop this low and accept to be secretly pampered at the expense of fellow civil servants.