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MBABANE - Government might deduct money from civil servants who erroneously received the three per cent cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA) and one per cent once off back pay.

The possibility was confirmed by the Minister of Public Service, Mabulala Maseko, in an interview yesterday. Maseko was interviewed following circulating news to the effect that some unionised workers benefitted from CoLA which was paid to non-unionised civil servants, starting from last Friday. When asked about these developments, Maseko confirmed having heard about them. The minister also confirmed having heard news to the effect that some of the non-unionised workers missed out on the CoLA. He was asked how government intended to deal with the issue.


In response, Maseko stated that if this was indeed true, government would have no choice but to deduct any money that was erroneously paid to the unionised civil servants. He stated that government would also pay those who were omitted by mistake. The minister acknowledged that there could have been errors when the salaries were effected, but this would be sorted out soon. He said for now, government was not in possession of the number of civil servants who received the CoLA by mistake and those who missed out. Maseko said government could only be in possession of the statistics after the finalisation of the salary payments for the month under review. Without delving much on the issues pending on the negotiation table, Maseko stated that government was working tirelessly to address all concerns.

He clarified that government could not pay unionised workers without reaching an agreement on the table, as such might result in the country being reported to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) or taken into the special paragraph. Worth noting is that government embarked on the three per cent CoLA payment after reaching an agreement with non-unionised workers, represented by the Eswatini Principals Association (EPA). Sikelela Dlamini, Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary General, said unionised civil servants were not expecting any CoLA pending the ongoing negotiations.

Dlamini said any CoLA payment could be a big insult from government. “We heard that there were unionised civil servants who received CoLA this month. We would like to urge all those employees to come forward so that we can deal with government in principle. Civil servants should not be worried as no money will be deducted from them. It was not their fault to receive the money,” Dlamini said. He likened the CoLA paid to unionised workers as a gift (umhlambiso). “Leyo mali leyo ifanana nemali loyiphiwe ngumuntfu utendlulela ngendlela. NgesiSwati siyibita ngemhlambiso,” he said.


Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) Secretary General Mayibongwe Masangane started by clarifying that nurses had not been paid as their payslips reflected that they would be paid on August 24, 2022. He said government should not penalise workers for its mistake. Masangane said government should engage the workers and negotiate on a way to deduct the money because it had not been stolen. “Government should negotiate with the workers before deducting the money if it believes the deductions are necessary. To our understanding, no one deserved the payment, even those who received it,” he said. A practicing labour attorney, who preferred to comment on condition of anonymity, stated that Section 56 (1) (e) of the Employment Act provided that an employer might deduct the wages due to an employee any amount paid to the employee in error as wage in excess of the amount due to him. “It’s an authorised deduction. In Common Law, it is called unjust enrichment,” said the lawyer.

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