By Tafara Shumba

Among the myriad of rare attributes that President Mugabe was divinely endowed with, is honesty. He is one politician who has managed to perfectly defy the deep seated stereotypes generally associated with the contemporary politicians – that of liars, dishonesty and masters of empty promises, among others.

Those atypical attributes have endeared President Mugabe to the electorate. He is not a careless chatterer but someone who says something after a meticulous consideration. As a result, he keeps his word, come what may. The opposition political parties, the MDC-T and its allies are not lost to this strength that the President embodies. Hence, there have been concerted efforts by this group to attack that strength, though unsuccessful.

The Daily News, a long time willing tool for the MDC-T’s hatchet job, carried a malicious story that attempted to assault the persona of President Mugabe. The article, with a screaming headline ‘Mugabe fails to fulfil bonus promise,’ was an attempt to discredit the President’s pledge on civil servants bonuses. It was a futile attempt to cast distrust on that pledge in a bid to alienate civil servants from the revolutionary leader.

However, it was a bad job for they aimed at a wrong target. The civil servants know very well that their leader is a man of his word, having been sincerely promised before. The President has said on many occasions that the civil servants occupy a central part of his heart, for he was one. Once a civil servant always a civil servant.

Twice, President Mugabe shot down Finance and Economic Development Minister, Cde Patrick Chinamasa’s proposal to put on abeyance the awarding of bonuses to civil servants. In 2015, President Mugabe overturned Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s decision to suspend bonuses for civil servants and guaranteed that they would get them without fail. The President then said: “That is there in the rules governing the handling of public servants when they are given a benefit. We cannot reverse it at all. It has become their right and that is what we standby. So your bonuses will come to you.”  Indeed the civil servants got their bonuses as promised. Although the bonus was staggered, every civil servant got his or her 13th cheque.

There were similar headlines that attempted to incite civil servants against government and President Mugabe in particular. They, however, had eggs on their faces when government managed to fulfil its promise on bonus payment.

Unfortunately this is the same target group that they are trying to hoodwink into believing that President Mugabe is a master of empty promises. They forget too soon that the man promises what he is able to follow through.  The civil servants know this.

Minister Chinamasa’s proposal to suspend bonuses for 2016 was once again overruled. Basing on the rules governing the handling of public servants, the civil servants were promised their bonuses despite the economic hardships biting the country. However, the pledge was not time bound. It is therefore reckless for someone to say “Mugabe fails to fulfil bonus promise” as if he has declared so. Some civil servants received their 2015 bonuses in June 2016. Government did show commitment to honour the promise by meeting the representatives of the civil servants to discuss payment models. Unfortunately government’s plan to replace bonus with residential stands was blocked by the likes of Raymond Majongwe who know very well that they will not benefit anything for they are no longer within the civil service. It was also sabotaged by those with political agendas.

If Government had failed to pay bonuses as the opposition wants everybody to believe, it would not waste time convening these meetings. Delay does not mean President Mugabe has failed to fulfil the promise. Currently, some civil servants are getting their salaries the following month. This does not mean Government has failed to pay civil servants. President Mugabe himself once told civil servants to be patient in the wake of delays in payment of their salaries.

“Tirikuti inhamo yemazuvano chete. Hairambi yakadaro zvekuti madoctor vaende pastrike, manurse vaenda pastrike, mateacher vaenda pastrike. Havasi kunzi hatikupei mari yenyu. Aiwa! Varikunzi chingovai nemoyo mukuru wekumbononoka nekuti zvikwata nezvikwata zvehurumende zvakawanda, tichasvika kwamuriwo mopihwa mari yenyu,” said President Mugabe when addressing supporters in Bindura last year.

True to his word, after negotiations with civil servants representatives, government eventually agreed to pay civil servants their 2016 bonuses. The bonuses will be staggered from April to August 2017. President Mugabe has once again kept his word!