ms lucia matibenga.jpgThe government says it now has a position paper on salaries and conditions of service for civil servants which will be presented to the National Joint Negotiating Council on Wednesday this week.

In a statement issued today, the Minister of Public Service, Ms Lucia Matibenga, says on the 11th of this month, she held a meeting with the Apex Council following their request to facilitate negotiations between them and government negotiators.

Ms Matibenga says the meeting provided an opportunity for workers’ representatives to air some of their grievances.

The Minister however says she deliberately resisted the temptation to be a negotiator for government because she does not sit in the National Joint Negotiating Council.

“As Minister, I do not sit on the National Joint Negotiating Council,” she said.

Ms Matibenga also said during the meeting she promised to facilitate the crafting of the government position paper on salaries and conditions of service for civil servants, but the feedback was to be provided on the 17th of this month, the very day the Inter- Ministerial Task Force was meeting.

The Minister says after realising the possibility that the consultations will not be completed in time to provide a feedback to the Apex Council, she wrote to them requesting the postponement of the meeting until the government position had been established.

“Government now has a position paper on salaries and conditions of service for Public Servants which will be presented to the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) on Wednesday 25 January, 2012,” she said.

“I would like to express my appreciation to all Public Servants who have stayed on the job and served the public despite the hardships under which they are operating,” said added.

Ms Matibenga’s response comes after the media criticised her of being arrogant in dealing with the issue of salaries for civil servants.

Other analysts had blamed the Minister for her handling of the salary impasse which they said has directly led to the industrial action by government workers.

Meanwhile, last week the Acting President, Cde John Landa Nkomo, held talks with Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Ms Matibenga over the civil servants issue.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Cde George Charamba said during the meeting, the Acting President tasked the two ministers to find a lasting solution to resolve the plight of civil servants.

He said this year Zimbabwe will hold a referendum and a general election, hence the need for the process to be held under an environmentally stable democracy.

Last year, the issue of salaries for civil servants was resolved after the sale of Marange diamonds, but this time around the United States has imposed sanctions on the sale of Zimbabwean diamonds, a situation which is negatively impacting on the country’s economy.

Cde Charamba also said the Presidency is closely following the issue with keen interest and expressed hope that the plight of civil servants will be resolved by the National Joint Negotiating Council during a meeting to be held on Wednesday this week.