ZIMBABWE’S public workers’ representatives say they were not consulted before authorities established the Government Employees Mutual Savings Fund.
The GEMS fund was announced on Wednesday and will see civil servants accessing loans at rates ranging from 2 to 7%.
The initiative is voluntary and will see participants contributing 2.5% of their salary to the fund.
APEX Council secretary, David Dzatsunga said Government did not consult them before introducing the new measure.
“We were not consulted and from that perspective it is not right,” said Dzatsunga adding that Government must endeavor to pay the civil servants a living wage and not burden them with taxes.
“We are going to write to them, proposing to have a meeting hopefully in the coming week so that they can upraise us on this thing that they sprang on us from nowhere,” he added.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president, Raymond Majongwe also shared his constituency’s views on the matter.
“In labour politics there is adage that says nothing for us without us, no matter how good the initiative is if the party that is deemed to be a beneficiary is not involved from the onset, it becomes a problem,” said Majongwe.
“This was part and parcel of the none monetary incentive agenda. We were saying that Government must be able to set up a fund that must benefit civil servants. But this was going to be run along the lines of what people would have agreed upon so that there is transparency and accountability. It was never going to be something that Government was going to impose on us.”
In announcing the GEMS scheme finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Prof the fund sought to protect civil servants from extortionate loans from loan sharks.
“We realised that some of our Government workers are heavily indebted to loan sharks.
“We want to solve the problem of borrowing from loan sharks and since it’s a mutual facility people can opt out.”
Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission insists that monies contributed to the fund will not be used to set up garrison shops for uniformed services.
“Another, separate initiative approved on the same day by Cabinet is the operationalisation of garrison shops for the uniformed services, namely Zimbabwe Defence Forces; Zimbabwe Police Service and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service to ensure convenient access to reasonably priced commodities,” said the commissions secretary, Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe.
Wutawunashe highlighted that the shops are based on a self-financing model.