Sikhala slams salaries

MDC-99 president Job Sikhala said the strike by state prosecutors was a national embarrassment and blasted the principals for lining their pockets while government workers wallowed in poverty.

Job Sikhala
Job Sikhala

Zimbabwe's criminal justice system ground to a halt after prosecutors went on strike last week to protest appalling salaries. For the prosecutors, the strike was a last-ditch attempt to force the government to cede to their demands for better pay.

The prosecutors picketed the Attorney General's office at the New Government Complex. The Law Officers Association, which called the strike, said "more than 80 percent" of prosecutors have stayed away from work. Only army prosecutors and trainees are turning up for work. Most criminal and civil cases have been postponed until further notice.

The prosecutors, who earn between $200-300 want to be put on the same salary as the magistrates who are on $500-730 salaries. They say they hold the same qualifications and don't understand the discrepancy. They vowed they would not go back to work until their concerns were addressed.

Sikhala said the strike came at a time ministers and deputy ministers earned smart salaries of between $3 000 and $5 000, which they awarded themselves in secrecy.

"The GNU leaders and their hangers-on in government have, in the space of ten months, gobbled over $50 million on international travel, but they keep telling the nation that there is no money to award salaries to civil servants," Sikhala said. "A massive $160 million is being used to purchase vehicles for MPs in a clear demonstration of how the ruling elite in Zimbabwe have become very selfish and callous.”

Efforts to obtain comment from AG Johannes Tomana were futile as his cell was unavailable. Deputy Justice minister Obert Gutu said the ministry was no longer dealing with law officers salaries, and referred questions to the AG.

"We symphathise with them as a ministry," he said. The strike has closed the Rotten Row, Mbare and Chitungwiza magistrates courts. The High court has only sat for a few bail hearings with the assistance of army prosecutors.

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