HARARE – Seeking to placate restive public sector workers, the government announced on Wednesday that it would allow civil servants who have been in service for at least 10 years to import vehicles duty-free.

The vehicle value would be capped at US$10,000.

The cash-strapped government is facing renewed demands by public sector workers for salary increases to cushion them against the effects of rising goods and services costs.

While the government has promised a review of salaries in April next month, workers have also insisted on non-monetary incentives including housing stands and a duty waiver on vehicle imports.

Now, the government has gazetted Statutory Instrument 52 of 2019 giving effect to the scheme.

“The government heeded the long standing Apex Council call for motor vehicle duty-free scheme covered by Statutory Instrument 52/2019 which will see all civil servants with 10 years of service being accorded a privilege to import a vehicle worth not more than US$10,000 duty free,” the Apex Council, the umbrella body of public sector unions, said in a statement at the end of a meeting with government representatives on Wednesday.

Raymond Majongwe, president of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, said: “We’re anxiously waiting to see how the government is going to operationalise this one. We hope it won’t be used to benefit a selected few.”

On average, government workers are paid less than RTGS$500 per month, the equivalent of US$131, and the duty-free vehicle scheme is unlikely to bring any relief to them.