Editorial Comment: Govt should not take workers for granted

Editorial Comment

DURING the recent visits to the country by the presidents of Botswana and South Africa, our government and leaders appeared very honest in their engagements with our neighbours.

And it is when each time top government officials sojourn into the yonder world scouting for the ever-elusive bailouts and foreign direct investment; their honesty is almost tangible. This is very commendable because we cannot be seen to be lying to the very people whom we hope to get assistance from.

What, however, bothers us is government’s seemingly uncaring and stone-faced attitude towards the foot soldiers in this fight to revive the economy: The workers, both in the public and private sectors.

Workers in this country have not known what a wage increase is like for years, mainly as a result of dollarisation and the fallacy that all wages were pegged in the United States dollars, except for a handful who have been awarded peanuts through their union efforts.

What workers have known all these years are wages that have lost value to a point that they are now mostly pointless, especially after the recent devaluation of the local virtual currency, the real time gross settlement dollar. That the virtual currency remains unstable is cause for concern for the ever-struggling workers of this nation.

As government remains fixated with its drive to be accepted back into the community of nations, we urge it to spare a thought for its miserable working people who are taking home virtually nothing. We have heard many a time that charity begins at home.

It is, indeed, high time government remembered that for the country’s economic wheels to keep turning, those that drive them need to be decently remunerated. Driving a car with its engine empty on oil is only inviting disaster.

It is this government’s indifference to the plight of workers that led to one of our senior doctors to shed tears of desperation in front of Health minister Obadiah Moyo in Harare on Wednesday.

Workers have now been pushed to the point of shedding tears because no one is listening to them or even bothering about what they are going through to make this country liveable.

“There is no urgency. I am here because I am desperate. I have tried, we have tried, but feel we are not being heard,” was the touching plea by one of our doctors, Azza Mashumba. This was just a single voice that aptly summed up the desperate situation that the workers in this country face.

Teachers have also been crying and, instead of listening to their pleas, government has punished them for informing their paymaster that they are no longer able to work because their wages are now well below the country’s poverty datum line.

It is this indifference by our government that drives us to keep urging the powers-that-be to remember the people who are still dedicated to make this country work again. Central bank governor John Mangudya has since told us that it is currently not possible for workers to get high wage increases, given the state of the economy.

We hear him, but can he, at least, tell us what increment is the government comfortable with under the circumstances? A few more months with the same wages means many will simply not be able to go to work.

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