File photo: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been criticised for its plans to pay out US$500 in funeral assistance when a civil servant dies. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
File photo: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been criticised for its plans to pay out US$500 in funeral assistance when a civil servant dies. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Zimbabwe slammed over plans to pay $500 toward civil servants’ funerals

By Molaole Montsho Time of article published Oct 21, 2020

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Rustenburg - The government of Zimbabwe was slammed on social media on Wednesday for its move to pay out US$500 in funeral assistance when a civil servant dies.

Social media was flooded with comments critical of the decision, with many questioning why the government was not paying a living wage in order to alleviate the suffering of many civil servants.

This followed after Secretary for Information Nick Mangwana tweeted on Tuesday night that the government would pay US$500 to assist with funerals when a civil servant died.

"Starting immediately, the government will pay an equivalent US$500 in funeral assistance for any civil servant who passes away. This is regardless of any funeral policy the member may have. The money is paid to a surviving spouse, adult children or agreed dependant," he tweeted.

He followed up with another tweet on Wednesday, stating that they hope no one in the civil service dies, but should that happen the government will pay out US$500.

"We hope no colleague within the civil service has died or is going to die today. But should that tragic event happen, as a compassionate bereavement response, the government will give them a ZWL$ equivalent of US$500 for funeral assistance. This comes in handy for the bereaved family."

Respondents to the tweet said civil servants want a salary of US$500 or above monthly. They want to enjoy that money alive, not in a coffin.

Mangwana responded: "A salary of US$500 is too heavy for our fiscus. This is a one-off compassionate payment, so cannot equate to monthly payments as a salary."

The second biggest teachers’ union in the country, the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), called on the government to pay them a living wage.

"Thank you, Nick. The reason why we join funeral policies is because we have relatives and children who also depend on us for that. They and us also need food and other things while still alive. Give us a living wage and we decide how we live and get buried," the union replied.

Independent daily newspaper NewsDay reported that the move to pay funeral assistance was approved by cabinet on Tuesday.

According to the newspaper, civil servants have been battling to secure a living wage from their employer, forcing teachers, nurses and doctors to go on strike.

Teachers are demanding at least US$520 a month, against their current monthly earning the equivalent of US$40.

According to Zimbabwe media reports, most civil servants were earning less than US$50 and had called on the government to address their grievances.

African News Agency (ANA)

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