RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya last week met representatives of three labour unions following an outcry over his recent blanket ban on salary increases this year.
BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
The workers’ representatives told NewsDay yesterday that the central bank boss convinced them that the challenges facing the economy were being caused by overpricing of goods and services rather than low salaries.
Mangudya told the representatives from the College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe (COLAZ), Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Energy Workers’ Union (ZEWU) that the central bank was putting in place measures to control the price distortions on the market.
COLAZ president David Dzatsunga said the RBZ boss made it clear that it would be impossible to increase salaries under the prevailing economic situation.
“We discussed the issue of salaries and the governor was of the point of view that we do have a problem and it would be difficult for government to increase salaries,” he said.
“He highlighted that the real issue is not about salaries, but the pricing regime because we have really trivialised the US dollar and he is now looking at how best to have real US dollar prices.”
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe, who also attended the meeting, said as a union, they registered their displeasure at Mangudya’s recent announcements that government would not be able to meet their salary increase demands because the economy was not performing well.
“We were able to bring to the attention of the governor the amount of damage his statements would have on the unscrupulous employers who would want to hide behind such statements and deny workers’ salary demands,” Majongwe said.
Majongwe, however, said they appreciated Mangudya’s explanation that a 5% reduction of prices was better than a 5% salary increase.
“The governor’s drift is purely a response to the macro-economic fundamentals which if properly handled can yield desired results,” Majongwe said.
He added that they were able to appreciate how the introduction of bond coins was meant to protect the poor and the vulnerable who had been receiving sweets and pens, among other trinkets, in place of real change.
Civil servants had early this year threatened to down tools over poor working conditions, but shelved the plan after Apex Council members failed to reach consensus over the issue.