Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has weighed in on the ongoing Judiciary strike and categorically stated that Treasury would not implement their requests and proposal because it would defeat the purpose of harmonisation of salaries in the civil service.
The Judiciary has asked government to implement a salary adjustment for its staff to correspond with that of the civil service, as per Clause 44 (2) of the Judiciary’s conditions of service, but with agreed percentages specifically for Judiciary.
Government might be seen to have shot itself in the foot when it implemented civil service salary adjustments ranging from 24 to 45 percent, but Gondwe said in an interview yesterday that this was part of the government’s harmonisation process of salaries across the civil service.
Said Gondwe: “What the Judiciary is not saying is that that [the clause] was going to be implemented after harmonisation, which is next financing year, not this financial year. In 2014/15, we increased salaries for the mainstream civil service to the levels higher than the others [like Judiciary] so that next we could increase to the same level another time.
“If we do what the Judiciary and others want, it [harmonisation] will not work. That is why I am putting my foot down because we don’t want to go back to what it was before.”
Apart from demands for 36 new vehicles for judges, which are estimated to cost K1.6 billion and free housing for staff, Judiciary also wants salaries reviewed for Judiciary support staff, ranging from 18 percent to 86 percent; rebuffing government’s efforts at harmonisation of salaries in the civil service.
The Judiciary also wants a new Toyota Prado VX V8 for the Chief Justice, who already has a Mercedez Benz, but Gondwe said this would not happen.
He said: “We cannot implement their demands [on the vehicles], not when the President’s car is 10 years old and even the Vice-President is not getting a new car.”
But on the housing allowances, Gondwe said government would have to renegotiate the agreement with Judiciary because Capital Hill has been implementing a clean wage since 2004, consolidating salary and other allowances.
In a related development, the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament, which approved the conditions of service in 2012 that the Judiciary are demanding, is set to hear from the Department of Human Resource Management and Development this week on what progress has taken place on the implementation.
Committee chairperson Lingson Belekanyama said as mandated by Section 114, the committee reviewed and adopted the conditions of service for Judiciary and it was up to government to implement.
Said Belekanyama: “But in future, we would want to involve the Department of Human Resource, Ministry of Finance and Attorney General in the process to avoid what is happening now.”
The committee is also set to review conditions of service for the newly established offices of director and deputy director of Public Officers Declarations and director and deputy director of Legal Aid Bureau.