Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government is getting desperate: The country’s administration under Robert Mugabe has offered to pay its workers with land instead of the usual annual bonuses they are paid in November and December.
The government is the country’s main employer. It spends more than 80% of its budget on the salaries of government workers. But as the economy has stagnated, the government has struggled to pay those salaries, a cost of more than $250 million a month.
A plan to cut as many as 25,000 jobs was shelved after mass protests in September. Teachers, doctors, and civil servants have stayed home from work as their salaries have been delayed. Fearing another currency crisis, Zimbabweans began sleeping outside of banks in November to withdraw their money as soon as possible.
Public sector worker unions have already rejected the land offer, calling it “madness.” Plots of residential land are often without access to roads, electricity and sewage systems, and thus difficult to sell or even use. The bonuses are usually worth a month’s salary.
Mugabe, who faces a national election in 2018, is currently on holiday in Asia.