FOR any economy to develop, there is need for stability in the country, and stability can only be realised when people are able to put food on the table. But as the Zimbabwean economy continues on a downward spiral, especially after the re-introduction of the local dollar that has taken a severe knock in terms of value against major currencies, there can be no guarantee for such stability, especially in the light of calls by the country’s largest labour body, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), to roll out mass protests to have workers granted a living wage.
While we understand the frustration of the hard-pressed workers whose earnings continue to fall in value against skyrocketing prices of basic goods, the onus is upon President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to do the noble thing and ensure that all employees in the country have decent wages.
When government re-introduced the Zimdollar, this was against some of the best counsel from various quarters that the currency would not be stable. A few months down the line, government critics appear to have been vindicated.
The fact that the market has rejected the local currency, in which the majority of workers are paid, demonstrates beyond doubt that it does not make sense to stick to a local currency that does not work. The other option is to increase the salaries monthly, if not weekly, which does not make sense at all. But these are the realities on the ground which any “listening President” would surely pay attention to and act accordingly.
It is, indeed, true that the majority of workers in the country are earning slave wages that can barely cover a week’s needs. This is an untenable situation that requires urgent intervention, lest all the achievement of the “Second Republic” — if any — go down the drain.
If government is honest with itself, it must admit that wages paid in the fast-devaluing Zimdollar against goods and services, whose prices are referenced in United States dollars, are not sustainable. Mnangagwa and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and other key stakeholders need to think through this whole conundrum and come up with viable and lasting solutions. That is the only way workers can really concentrate on work unlike now when a lot of energy is being expended on demonstrations against the government.