BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) has called on its members to conduct business as usual following calls for a shutdown today to protest against a deteriorating economy.
University students, teachers and nurses have called for a national shutdown today to protest against government’s failure to improve their welfare since coming into power in 2017.
In a statement, CZR chairperson Denford Matashu said retailers will not be part of the shutdown, adding that such strikes have been counterproductive in the past.
“The Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers wishes to advise its stakeholders to continue with their normal business operations and assure customers of their safety in the midst of calls for a stay away. CZR is working closely with the country’s security apparatus and it will be business as usual.
“Business, however, distances itself from the so-called stay away which in the past has been disruptive, retrogressive and led to the destruction of property and affected business operations. It has also turned violent to the detriment of business as well as injuries on the part of innocent citizens,” he said.
Teachers and nurses argue that they are failing to make ends meet, with their salaries having been devalued by inflation which shot up to 96,4% in April up from 72,7% in March, while university students say new tuition fees are unaffordable.
There is also growing discontent in the private sector as workers and their employers remain locked up in stalemates over salaries and wages, forcing some companies to pay a percentage of the wages in United States dollars.
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The planned shutdown comes days after Zanu PF national spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa disclosed that the ruling party bigwigs were having headaches over the currency crisis and price distortions.
Matashu said the economy cannot afford deliberate setbacks especially when it is still recovering from the ravages of COVID-19 pandemic.
“History has shown that a stay away does not solve the country’s problems, but rather worsens the situation. In a nutshell a stay away causes, supply chain disruptions, production stoppages, job losses, property distinction, violence and loss of human life, disrupts peace and tranquillity, while limiting rights of those who do not wish to partake in it, more price instability and loss of revenue due to looting and unintended business closures,” he said.
In the past, the government has responded to protests by shutting down social media platforms, and deploying heavily armed troops onto the streets. In 2019, over a dozen civilians were killed during fuel price hike protests.
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