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Unpaid civil servants demand justice after registration blitz

They worked hard to ensure that every eligible voter in Zimbabwe could exercise their democratic right, but now they are left wondering if they will ever see their money.

Dozens of civil servants who oversaw the running of the national registration blitz, ahead of national elections, say they are growing tired of asking authorities to pay them their dues, months after they carried out the exercise.

What was the registration blitz?

The registration blitz was a program that ran from April to September last year and from May 1 to July 31 this year.

It aimed to provide national ID cards to everyone who needed them, especially those who wanted to register as voters or had lost their cards.

The program was carried out by staff from the Civil Registry Department and other government departments, who were recruited and promised to be paid US$120 per day or bank rate equivalent of the day for working outside the office, and US$60 per day for working from the office.

What are the grievances of the civil servants?

Many of the civil servants who participated in the registration blitz have not been paid fully or at all for their work.

“Some provinces, like Manicaland, have not received a cent for last year’s work. Those who have been paid partially have seen their money lose value due to inflation and currency fluctuations,” said one goverment employee who participated in the blitz, but requested anonymity fearing that they might be paid their dues for speaking to the media.

Civil servants say they have been making follow-ups with the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Registry Department, but nothing has materialized. They say they have not been able to pay school fees for their children or use the money for intended purposes and have become desperate.

“We have been following up since last year but nothing has materialized,” said one employee in a phone call to Abson Chitsva, an accountant at the Civil Registry Department.

“It’s been too long. If you see us calling like this it shows things are not normal. We are really desperate,” said another staff member.

Chitsva appealed to the aggrieved parties to approach Treasury and write letters to them without any emotion. He said that it may be a case that someone, somewhere is not doing their job, which might not necessarily be the top officials.

“It is always good to write to them. They will respond,” he said.

However, some of the civil servants doubt that writing letters will make any difference.

Henry Tawona Machiri, the substantive Registrar- General in the Civil Registry Department, did not respond to questions sent to him.

The questions ranged from what are the challenges or obstacles that are preventing the Civil Registry Department from paying its workers and honoring its promises to how the department plans to address the grievances of the civil servants and ensure that they receive their dues as soon as possible.

One unpaid civil servant said the prolonged delay in salary payments raises questions about the transparency and accountability of the government and its agencies.

“It affects the morale and motivation of the civil servants, who feel exploited and neglected by their employers,” he said.

Some experts and analysts suggest that the government should prioritize paying its workers and honoring its promises, especially in times of economic hardship and political uncertainty.