THE government’s decision to award civil servants unbudgeted-for pay hikes and special allowances on the eve of this month’s crunch national elections has been roundly condemned by experts as wholly “unaffordable, and an ill-conceived gamble”. Speaking to The Financial Gazette yesterday following the controversial move, economists said this would raise inflation and further squeeze the country’s already-constrained fiscus — in addition to making Zimbabwe even less competitive, as local businesses would now have to contend with high production costs. They also cautioned that with civil service salaries already gobbling nearly 90 percent of the country’s $4 billion national budget, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s populist stance risked crowding out capital expenditure at a time the country was reeling from “a very limited…