FORMER finance minister, Tendai Biti, has told off current treasury permanent secretary, George Guvamatanga, after he claimed civil servants are better paid now that they were during the government of national unity (GNU).
Guvamatanga, who was speaking to journalists at finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s press conference Monday, claimed civil servants never received US$540 in monthly wages during the coalition government when Biti was finance minister.
“I want to dispel another notion that has been shared widely, that previously, during the GNU, the minimum salary was US$540,” said Guvamatanga.
“That is not correct, because we know at that particular moment in time the exchange rate was US$1:ZW$2.50.
“If you want to work out the correct US dollar salary you have to take that US$540 and divide it by ZW$2.50.
“If you take the US$175, we are currently paying plus the ZW$60 000, as the minimum salary, we are paying we are not even far off from what civil servants were getting.
“The real value (of their salary) was around US$200.
The Zimbabwe dollar was not in use during the GNU, which was in place from 2009 to 2013. It was only brought back in 2016 as a surrogate currency, bond notes, three years after the GNU.
Biti, who oversaw revival of the Zimbabwean economy in the GNU, after a decade in the doldrums, said Guvamatanga’s statement was ridiculous.
“The suggestion that there was an exchange rate in 2013 is so zany . It can’t be made by a senior civil servant. A parallel exchange rate only emerged fully in 2018 upon introduction of the surrogate currency we call the RTGS$ or the Bond Note, shame,” said Biti.
“When one has nothing to say one must shut up. Today’s presser was a tragic expression of the humongous levels of deceit, dishonesty, incompetence and hypocrisy of this regime. It is not news that the multi-currency system will continue. Fact is, the economy self-dollarised a long time ago.”
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) vice president maintained government should adopt the US dollar as the main currency if it was not going to oversee another economic meltdown similar to the one witnessed around 2008.
Added Biti: “The Willing Buyer, Willing Seller (WBWS) exchange, like the auction rate, represents yet another rigged rate, hence the huge difference between same and the rate on 4th street. The RBZ should have no role in determination of exchange rate. Truth is the central bank long outlived its usefulness and should be abolished.
“Solution is simple, use the US dollar as a transitional mechanism. Float Zimbabwe dollar, eliminate export surrender requirements, pay civil servants US dollars, deal with debt burden, deal with corruption, pursue fiscal consolidation, fund the social sector and attend to gross capital formation.”
Ncube is battling to arrest a downward spiral of the economy that has seen Zimbabwe topping inflation rates across the globe, a steep rise in prices of basic goods and job action by civil servants who are demanding better wages in the favoured US dollar.