Civil servants get $1 300 OK shopping vouchers


MASVINGO – Some Government Ministries have quietly issued shopping vouchers with values of between $600 and $1 300 to their workers and analysts have warned that this move which leaves out large groups like teachers will cause discontent.
The Mirror confirmed that two Ministries; Mines and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate, and Rural Resettlement issued out vouchers this month.
It has also been gathered that different Government ministries have been issuing out shopping vouchers to workers since November last year to buy goods from OK Zimbabwe or TM Pick n Pay supermarkets.
The Zimbabwe Progressive Teachers’ Union president, Takavafira Zhou said he was aware of the vouchers and his organisation’s appeal on behalf of teachers last year hit a brick wall.
 The vouchers which range $600 to $1 300 depends on the grade of the employee.
Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Finance, Professor Mthuli Ncube were fruitless.
An Agritex employee who cannot be named said he received a $1 000 shopping voucher last week redeemable at OK and Pick n Pay supermarkets throughout the country.
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate, and Rural Resettlement, Rtd Air Marshal Perrance Shiri referred all questions to the permanent secretary or Public Service Commission chairman as he said those were operational issues.
“I would not know off hand whether employees in my Ministry have received the vouchers that you are talking about because that is more of operational and I mainly deal with strategic matters of the Ministry. It could be part of their conditions of service so the best people to talk is the employer the Public Service Commission or the permanent secretary,” said Shiri.
“We last received these shopping vouchers in 2009. We are happy that we are getting them again this year in varying amounts from $600 to $1300. I also understand that the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Youth through their Youth Fund received as well. I think the vouchers were meant to cushion us from the January disease and I don’t know when we are going to get another disbursement,” said the Agritex officer.
Zhou said by denying teachers shopping vouchers the Government was using the divide and rule tactic which he said is a violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as that amounts to discrimination.
“We sought audience with our Minister in November last year when other civil servants started receiving shopping vouchers but we hit a brick wall. This is more of a divide and rule tactic, where other workers are appeased at the expense of others. This is clear discrimination which is a violation of the Constitution,” said Zhou.
A source in Government said there would be no vouchers for teachers as the large numbers would cause a drain on the fiscus.
“Each Ministry has its own budgetary allocation and funds generated from other activities and these are their funds that they apply for approval to the Ministry of Finance to give their employees as vouchers to cushion them against inflation.
“I know the Department of Agritex,  Ministry of Health have given their employees something, the Ministry of Youth from the Youth Fund have also disbursed something and the Ministry of Mines,” said an official from PSC who declined to be named.

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