0333 GMT February 18, 2020
They asked the Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube “to commit to a process of restoring the value of workers’ salaries to the pre-October 2018 status of $475 for the lowest-paid worker”. Currently some teachers earn about $50 a month, IPS reported.
In August, consumer rights watchdog Poverty Reduction Forum Trust said the Basket of Needs for an average family of five cost about $187 in August, (according to currency exchange rates) an increase from $154 the month before.
Amid a heavy police presence, the protestors were barred from marching to Ncube’s offices where they intended to deliver their petition.
Charles Mubwandarikwa, Harare chairperson of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, said “government officials never feel the pain of inflation; we only need better wages to overcome inflation”.
“It is now becoming increasingly difficult to properly price goods,” Denford Mutashu, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers, said.
The southern Africa nation’s annual inflation rate is the second-highest in the world, after Venezuela, at 300 percent according to the International Monetary Fund.
Though two months ago Ncube ordered the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency to stop publicizing the country’s annual inflation figures.
An IMF mission to the country in September, led by Gene Leon, conducted a review and progress with Leon stating, “Policy actions are urgently needed to tackle the root causes of economic instability and enable private-sector led growth”.
He listed the ability to contain fiscal spending as a key challenge, adding tightened monetary policy was needed to stabilize the exchange rate.
“Risks to budget execution are high as demands for further public sector wage increases, quasi-fiscal activities of the [Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe] RBZ that will need to be absorbed by the central government, and pressure to finance agriculture could push the deficit back into an unsustainable stance,” Leon said in a statement.
The recommendations by the IMF would make it difficult for government to accede to the wage increase demands.
But trade unionists like Zivaishe Zhou, who is the National Coordinator of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Professionals and Technical Association, said that inflation was impacting citizens and said that corruption was responsible for the country’s economic demise.
“In Zimbabwe, surely nothing has been damaged by the sanctions, which are aimed at few companies and individuals,” Zhou said.
Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa Director with Human Rights Watch, agreed.
“Zimbabwe authorities misinform the public that targeted sanctions are responsible for collapsing the country’s economy which is untrue,” Mavhinga said.
The European Union (EU) and United States (US) slapped Zimbabwe with financial and travel bans that targeted top governing Zimbabwe Africa Union Patriotic Front officials (Zanu-PF).
The BBC reports that financial and travel sanctions by the US target 56 companies and 85 individuals, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa.