Perks galore for Chefs while povo struggle to make ends meet

 

Perks for chefs from the rank of deputy minister and above were substantially increased when the government raised the salaries of all members of the legislature from Member of Parliament to the President.

These perks are not gazetted as is the case with salary increments because they are determined by the President. Beneficiaries are advised about them through circulars.

Although the salary increments were announced in October they were backdated to July 1 and so were the allowances. The Insider understands that all allowances are tax free.

The salary of a Member of Parliament is now pegged at $30 000 a year. Besides, the MP is also entitled to a constituency allowance of:

  • $240 if his constituency is less than 25 000 hectares,
  • $480 for a constituency of between 25 001 and 125 000ha.,
  • $600 for a constituency of 125 001 to 250 000 ha.,
  • $720 for a constituency of 250 001 to 500 000ha.,
  • $840 for a constituency of 500 001 to 1 million ha.,
  • $960 for a constituency of 1 000 001 to 1.5 million ha.,
  • $1 080 for a constituency of 1 500 001 to 2 million ha,
  • $1 200 for a constituency of 2 000 001 ha. to 3.125 million ha.,
  • and $1 440 for a constituency over 3.125 million ha.

Every MP other than a vice President, a senior minister, a deputy minister or deputy Speaker of Parliament is also entitled to a special allowance of $1 560 a year if he or she stays not more than 80km from the seat of Parliament (Harare) and $3 600 a year if he or she stays more than 80km from Harare.

Also backdated to July 1 was a $25 a-day fee for any MP, other than those excluded above, who attends a committee meeting held on a day when Parliament is not sitting. A member who fails to attend a committee meeting without leave of the committee will have $20 deducted from his salary.

The salary of the chief whip is now $33 384 a year. Members of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, the chairman of a departmental committee and the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee now earn $35 676 while the chairman of Parliamentary Legal Committee had his salary fixed at $39 132.

The deputy Speaker of Parliament and deputy Ministers have an annual salary of $42 588. They are also entitled to a general allowance of $3 000 and a housing allowance of $12 000.

The Attorney-General and Ministers have a general allowance of $6 000, a housing allowance of $12 000 and a salary of $52 944.

The Speaker of Parliament and Senior Ministers take home $60 000 a year and have a general allowance of $8 400 and a housing allowance of $12 000 while the two vice Presidents each has a housing allowance of $8 400, a general allowance of $12 000 and a salary of $70 008.

The vice-Presidents are entitled to occupy, free of rent, an official residence allocated to them by the state. The residence is wholly maintained by the State, and is furnished by the State with electricity and water charges being paid by the state.

The housing allowance is paid to the vice-President "only in respect of any period during which he maintains a private home for the use of himself or members of his family."

The President's salary is now pegged at $80 568. He also receives a cabinet allowance of $36 000 and a housing allowance of $8 000.

Besides these allowances, all the senior officials from vice-President, Senior Minister, Minister and deputy Minister, are also entitled to travelling and subsistence allowances at "such rates and in such circumstances as the President may from time to time determine."

According to highly reliable sources these allowances include wages for their domestic workers and part payment of their telephone bills.

These sources say the state pays the wages of one domestic worker for each deputy Minster or provincial Governor and two domestic workers for each Minister.

The Minimum wages for domestic wages for domestic workers were increased in July to $133.40 a month for Grade 1 and $138 a month for Grade 3. However, with allowances for accommodation, transport, light and fuel the minimum wage for a Grade 1 domestic worker goes up to $155.90 and $160.50 for a Grade 3 domestic worker.

The same sources said the wages for the domestic workers were paid directly to the deputy Minister, Governor or Minister and usually include all the allowances stipulated by law. It is therefore at the discretion of the politician concerned to pass on the money to the workers.

The State also pays $100 a month to meet the phone bills of deputy Ministers and above. This allowance was unchanged, the sources said.

The same sources said politicians were also paid an allowance of $700 for addressing a rally but this seems to have been discontinued because some were claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars with some claims reported to be going into six figures.

But while the chef's income is cushioned against inflation by perks the poor worker seems to be losing by the day as inflation is eroding his pocket and the government seems to have turned a blind eye on appeals by the public to give them tax credit for employing domestic workers.

The government considers this a luxury yet in most cases husbands and wives are being forced to work to make ends meet, but unfortunately, they have to exploit someone else to achieve this.

According to the Consumer Council although the nominal wage has gone up considerably, the worker is now worse off than in 1980 when the government stepped in to improve the lot of the workers.

Here is how things stand in commerce and industry according to Consumer Action, a quarterly magazine published by the Consumer Council.

Wage trends from 1980-89
Period Nominal  wage Real  wage
1980 $70.00 $70.00
1981 $85.00 $70.00
1982 $105.00 $83.00
1983 $115.00 $74.64
1984 $125.00 $67.50
1985 $143.00 $71.00
1986 $158.00 $65.00
1987 $158.00 $61.00
1988 $182.00 $65.00
1989 $206.00 $61.00

With the lifting of price controls things are likely to get worse.

The only hope for workers lies in the recently introduced trade liberalisation programme. If it works and there is greater supply than demand which will obviously take some years as local industrialists at heart will do everything in their power to protect their fragile operations then the worker can expect a fall in prices. But that will really be an uphill struggle.

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