Union fury as PSC decrees civil servants bonuses to be ‘performance-based’

HARARE – For decades, Zimbabwe’s 350,000 civil servants have been paid a blanket end-of-year bonus, but in a dramatic shift just announced, future payments will be performance-based – starting this year.

The Public Service Commission (PSC), in a circular, has decreed that bonuses will only be paid following staff appraisals by departmental heads, who themselves will have their performances assessed by those a grade above them.

Unions fear the changes are designed to punish civil servants who took part in strikes over poor pay.

Jasper Chimedza, the health ministry secretary, discussed the new method for assessing individual payments for the 13th cheque in a September 29 memorandum to the ministry’s directors.

He wrote: “The PSC has issued a circular notifying of the changed method of payment of bonuses and other performance related awards in the civil service.

“It is advised that with effect from this year, 2022, bonus will only be paid based on performance appraisal reports. Considering the foregoing, kindly ensure that all members of staff from deputy director level and below are appraised as per the standard requirements. You will be notified as to when to submit the consolidated performance ratings at the appropriate time.”

The change in the payment of bonuses, usually paid out in November, will put unions and the government on a new collision course after a year marked by boardroom skirmishes over poor pay.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said the government had not consulted unions before making the unilateral change.

“Performance appraisals should be an ongoing process which should never be be weaponised in an attempt to prejudice workers,” ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure told ZimLive.

“All civil servants have legitimate expectations to receive bonuses. We have consulted teachers and we are advised that most teachers never sat down with the supervisors to set realistic goals. At the end of the day, appraisal forms are going to be ‘cooked’.”

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