By Brenna Matendere
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has tabled before government a demand that all wages be paid in the South African rand and that the country joins the Rand Monetary Union as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value.
The economic situation continues to deteriorate and workers are reeling under the crisis which has seen the Zimdollar plunging against the United States dollar with black market rates reaching 1:38 as of yesterday.
Prices of goods and services have spiked in the past week, condemning workers to poverty.
Speaking at the Gweru labour forum meeting last week, ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo, said the demand for rand-pegged salaries was officially tabled before President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration at the National Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).
“We have made it clear to government that we demand the adoption of the rand currency for salaries of all workers. We said RTGS is not money,” Moyo said.
“For us, the rand is a far much better solution for the country to adopt the rand as the mode of exchange rather than to turn to the US dollar which is sought after by all the crooks in the World.”
He added: “If we say we want our salaries in US dollars, that will have a problem in the future because there are those people from other countries who can come to mop up the money.
“So we are saying the US dollar is risky because it can be mopped by outsiders if we are to be paid in the currency. But the rand is a stable currency. If we look at the past three years, the rand has lost maybe three or four points against the major currencies. So it’s a stable currency in our view.”
However, Moyo revealed that government, represented by the then Labour minister Sekai Nzenza and the incumbent, Paul Mavhima, has not been keen on the proposal.
Mavhima, however ,denied that he was non-committal, saying discusssions with labour were underway in the NTF.
“This is not true. Our discussions take place within the context of the TNF. Our next meeting will be next week on Monday. You should have followed TNF developments from last meeting in February,” Mavhima said.
But Moyo insisted: “The government has been non-committal on adopting the rand. The business community, has meanwhile, asked for more time for government to stabilise the economy before it is pressured into adopting the rand.
“The people in business have also been saying they have trillions of dollars in their accounts and so they cannot allow for a change of currency overnight. However, as the ZCTU, we are pushing for all workers to be paid in the rand currency,” the ZCTU secretary-general said.
During the inclusive government, the then Finance minister Tendai Biti also called for the adoption of the rand, but Zanu PF officials opposed the call, saying Zimbabwe would lose its sovereignty by using money from a neighbouring country.
Last year, government passed Statutory Instrument 142 which outlawed a multi-currency system it adopted in 2009 after the Zimdollar was driven out of circulation by hyperinflation..
Moyo revealed that the ZCTU had petitioned Nzenza to ask Cabinet to repeal SI 142, but she did not do so.
He revealed that the new minister Mavima has also rejected rand salary demands.
“Mavima, through a government technical committee at the NTF, has also said the workers cannot be paid in rands because changing the currency is now an issue that should be addressed by Parliament because S1 142 which introduced the Zimdollar as a mono-currency is now a law that would need to be repealed by legislators if need be. However, we are continuing to push government because the Zimbabwe dollar salaries are making all workers poorer because the currency keeps tumbling,” Moyo said.
By the time of going to print, Mavima had not responded to questions sent to him via WhatsApp and his phone was unreachable since Sunday.
Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana was also not responding to messages and calls.