"We will do our best to pay in December. We have serious fiscal challenges right now," Finance minister Tendai Biti said.
Curiously, soldiers and junior officers have been the first to be paid this week in a move to placate the security forces. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai a fortnight ago said the Kimberley Process decision to okay exports of Marange diamonds previously banned as "blood diamonds" would bankroll the civil servants’ bonuses. However, Biti says the cash is not flowing in, and without financial aid the country risks sliding back into the economic abyss of 2008.
The government was forced to increase salaries for civil servants mid-year after they threatened to take to the streets if their demands were not met. Unions say they will continue to demand salary increases and were eagerly awaiting an increase in the national budget that was supposed to be presented on Thursday, but has been postponed because Mugabe is out of the country.