THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has urged the Zanu PF government to urgently address the current economic meltdown and stem the tide of retrenchments, which have reportedly reached a peak of 300 workers per week.
Dumisani Sibanda,Assignments Editor
In a statement last Friday, ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said retrenchment levels had reached alarming levels.
“During the past three months, the ZCTU has noted unprecedented high levels of retrenchments of up to 150 per week and in the last two weeks of November the figures have risen to almost 300 every week, a sign that the economy is getting to a dead end,” Moyo said.
“The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions takes this opportunity to warn the government of the alarming levels of retrenchments that are taking place across the whole spectrum of industry and that it should speedily put in place mechanisms to rejuvenate the economy and arrest a potentially explosive situation.”
Moyo said sectors mostly affected by retrenchments were pharmaceuticals, commercial, cement and lime and, of late, mining.
“Most companies which are retrenching in these sectors are citing restructuring as well as the liquidity crunch the country is facing. The ZCTU calls upon the government to move with speed to avert a disaster which has also been fuelled by the failure by the Ministry of Finance to announce the 2014 Budget in time and this has caused a lot of uncertainty in industry and commerce.
“It also appears the new economic blueprint, the so-called Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), has no takers. Not only has it not been officially launched in order to bring confidence in the economy, but it has also remained a ruling party programme with no input from other stakeholders.”
Most banks and companies have of late experienced a biting financial crunch amid reports that the economy lost about $1 billion which was siphoned out of the banking sector ahead of the July 31 elections as investors were shaken by the political uncertainty.
The opposition MDC-T recently accused Zanu PF of failing to resolve the liquidity crisis.
This comes against the background of reports that several companies have folded over the past five years with the majority citing cashflow problems.
Two years ago, government introduced the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) to address the capital constraints faced by local businesses. The fund was designed to allow companies to purchase equipment and raw materials for use in enhancing output, quality of goods being produced and to assist them in meeting their operating costs at concessionary interest rates.
However, the programme failed to stimulate growth in the industrial sector as it was severely underfunded.