BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
ZIMBABWE’s mining companies are battling to retain critical staff by pampering their workers with lucrative incentives that include paying in hard currency, NewsDay Business has learnt.
Last June, the southern African nation ended the 10-year use of the multi-currency regime to reintroduce the Zimbabwe dollar, the sole legal tender which is fast losing value since its return.
Inflation has been rising since then, wiping out wages and salaries for most workers. Inflation ended 2019 at 521%.
Chamber of Mines chief executive officer Isaac Kwesu said mining companies were introducing various incentives to deal with the brain drain.
“I would not know if different companies have diverse human resource policies which are private and confidential. It varies with companies. (There are) those that would afford coming up with a cocktail of measures to cushion their workers and introduce various hardship allowances. This is the most common way,” he said.
Kwesu, however, said some entities were struggling to pay salaries.
Sources in the mining industry said companies feared losing experienced employees and thus were dangling lucrative packages to them.
“You see, some mining firms are keen to pay full salaries in US dollars because they understand the importance of retaining their staff. As you are aware, mining engineers and geologists are on demand in other jurisdictions. So companies fear to lose their critical staff,” a source said.
Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe president Tinago Ruzivi confirmed that mining personnel were leaving the country in droves, adding that miners were making efforts to contain the skills flight.
“Yes, it’s true that there has been a great flight of skills to other countries. Lots of skills are leaving for greener pastures. There must be consensus between employers and workers to improve remuneration. There is some in-house agreement in different mines dotted around the country,” Ruzivi said.
Zimbabwe is going through one of its worst socio-economic crises punctuated by crippling daily power outages of up to 18 hours and foreign currency shortages, elevated public debt and uncontrolled inflation.
Mining generates over 60% of Zimbabwe’s export earnings. It is estimated that the sector accounts for between 12% and 16% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Last October, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched a strategic roadmap to propel the country’s mining sector to a US$12 billion industry by 2023.
Under the mining roadmap, gold is expected to contribute US$4 billion, platinum US$3 billion, while chrome, iron, steel, diamonds and coal will contribute US$1 billion.
Lithium is expected to contribute US$500 million and US$1,5 billion will come from other minerals.
The Chamber of Mines 2019 report revealed that the country’s mining fees and charges were high and unaffordable, adding that government continued to delay the review of mining fees and charges, notwithstanding submissions by mining companies on the matter.
According to a Canadian-based Fraser Institute’s 2018 report, Zimbabwe has the second worst attractive mining policies in Africa, ranking better than the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) only.
The southern African nation was ranked 76 out of 83 jurisdictions ahead of the DRC which was 82 out of 83.
The study’s policy perception index, which is a composite index that captures the opinions of managers and executives, looked into uncertainty concerning the administration, interpretation, enforcement of existing regulations.
It also looks at environmental regulations, regulatory duplication and inconsistencies and taxation.