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Zimbabwe Reaches Pay Hike Deal With Civil Servants

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The Zimbabwean government has finally sealed a pay deal with its restive employees after the workers agreed to a 41 per cent salary hike.

The pay hike will see the least-paid civil servant earning about 14,500 Zimbabwe dollars ($177) while the lowest-paid teacher will earn a little over 18,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($220).

The government also offered teachers an additional 10 per cent risk allowance and the pay deal is expected to pave the way for the newly reopened schools to be fully staffed soon

With the agreement all teachers are expected to be back in their classrooms this week.

Government last reviewed workers’ salaries in June when it offered them a 50 per cent salary increase and a non-taxable COVID-19 allowance of 75 dollars per month to be paid until December.

Of the civil servants, teachers and nurses have been the most vocal in demanding a salary hike.

However, the majority of teachers have not been reporting for duty since schools reopened in September after a six month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most teachers will now be returning to duty after the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) on Monday advised all its members to return to work.

The association assured them to continue to press for improvements in conditions of service.

Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander confirmed the pay deal after the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting.

She said government had increased the basic salary only, but they finally settled for increments which include allowances

“We have agreed to a cost of living adjustment to be paid as follows: an average salary increase of 41 per cent of the total package that is the basic salary, transport and housing allowances plus special civil service allowance.

“It is going to be effective from Nov. 1,” she said.

Alexander said the bonus for 2020, paid over November and December, was going to be based on the basic salary plus transport and housing allowances.

“We have settled for the offer because we are now getting at the end of the year and the government is also going to be paying us bonuses for two months.

“What it means is that if we had refused the offer, civil servants were going to lose bonuses or get paid using calculations of the previous salary structure,” she said.

She added that while the civil servants’ proposal to be paid according to the value of U.S. dollar salaries in October 2018 was not met, they settled for the increase in good faith hoping that next year would bring better fortunes.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association Secretary-General Enock Dongo said nurses welcomed the increment awarded by the government but still wanted a further improvement.

“It is a welcome development by the government and we really appreciate the increment they have offered.

“It is however, not yet enough to cater for the cost of living. We expect more. But like I said, this is a positive step and we really appreciate it,” said Dongo.

Public Service Commission Secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe said in a statement on Tuesday that the government and its workers would continue to engage to continuously improve conditions of service in tandem with improvements in the economy and in revue performance.

“The government reiterates its commitment to continuous and fruitful dialogue with its workers in order to improve conditions of service for its valued workforce,” Wutawunashe said.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof. Mthuli Ncube has stressed that while he wants to see civil servants properly rewarded, he needs to maintain the fiscal discipline that has created the basis for the new stability and the launch pad for sustained and viable economic growth.

East Africa News

Three-Year-Drought Pushes 1.5 Million People Into Hunger In Southern Madagascar

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UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) says a three-year drought in southern Madagascar has pushed 1.5 million people – over half of the population – into crisis and in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.

Those affected include 75,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. Also, 100,000 children aged under 5 are in danger of acute malnutrition with about 19,000 appearing to be in a ‘severe’ situation.

The WFP said the number of people in need of assistance had tripled in the past few months.

In the worst-hit area of Amboasary, three-quarters of children have dropped out of school to help their parents look for food.

Some people are exchanging essential household items, such as cooking utensils, for food.

The WFP said about $35m is needed to avert catastrophe in the area in the coming months

WFP’s Aina Andrianalizaha, who is visiting affected areas, said people are digging into the sand to find water “but rarely find any”, adding that “they have to walk several kilometres from their villages or hamlets to fetch water”

She added: “They can no longer plant and have, as a result, come to offer to exchange their scarce cooking utensils for a piece of cassava.”

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Ethiopian Forces Capture Tigray’s Capital In Final Offensive

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Ethiopian forces have captured Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced this in tweets on Saturday, as he said the “Tigrayan criminals” will now be hunted by the Federal Police.

Ahmed on Friday met African envoys in Addis Ababa and reiterated that civilians in the region will not be harmed in the final offensive.

“I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the #Tigray region.

“Our focus now will be on rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance while Federal Police apprehend the TPLF clique.”

He said the town is now under the control of National Defence Forces, as humanitarian assistance will be provided to inhabitants of the region.

Recall that Ethiopia earlier announced that a Tigrayan town, Wikro, 50km north of Mekelle has been captured.

Tigray officials are yet to react to the Prime Minister’s claims as the region has been cut off from internet and phone access.

Both forces have been at daggers drawn since the 4th of November when Ethiopia accused Tigrayan forces of attacking state properties.

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Gunmen Kill Police Officer, Kidnap Chinese In Nigeria’s Ekiti State

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Some unknown assailants have abducted a Chinese expatriate in Nigeria’s southwest Ekiti State.

The Police in the state confirmed the incident happened in the capital, Ado Ekiti, on Friday, adding that a police officer was killed by the gunmen.

The abductee was one of the engineers working with the Chinese company handling the new Ado-Iyin road.

The Command Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Sunday Abutu, who confirmed the incident to newsmen on telephone, said the incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. along the new Ado Ekiti-Iyin Ekiti road.

He said that the abducted Chinese was one of the Engineers handling the new road network project awarded by the present administration.

Abutu said that aside from the late police officer, one other person was also shot at the scene of the incident.

“It is confirmed that a kidnapping incident occurred today at about 4:30 p.m. along new Iyin-Ekiti road.

“During the incident, one civilian, an expatriate, was kidnapped, one shot, while one policeman was shot dead.

“Our operatives are already combing the bush for possible apprehension of the perpetrators,” he said.

Abutu said that the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti, Mr Babatunde Mobayo, urged the public to be calm in spite of the incident.

“He also enjoined them to avoid any form of apprehension as the Command would do all within its powers to ensure freedom for the kidnapped expatriate and bring the culprits to book,” he said.

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