The standard of living for the generality of the people of Zimbabwe has worsened and the ordinary citizen now survives on less than US0.35 cents per day. The Government of Zimbabwe is however reluctant to act on labour grievances that are being presented by its workforce.
This is mainly due to the fact that the Government knows that all workers constitute only 5% of a total estimated population of 14.65 million Zimbabwean and civil servants are a mere segment of that portion.
Moreover, Zanu-PF which is the defacto Government of Zimbabwe is aware that their highly educated workforce is affiliated to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), which is the metaphoric parent of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
This political state of affairs has made the government aloof from taking reasonable care of its employees. The civil servants have therefore remained lacerated as the purchasing power of their basic income has been slashed by more than 300% since the inception of the surrogate currency; bondnote/RTGS as the official currency of the nation.
Below are some of the reasons why the Government of Zimbabwe will not increase the standard of living of its workforce in the next 3 years.
Mthuli’s Saddening Strategy
The appointment of the renowned Professor of Economics, Mthuli Ncube has seen the introduction of a controversial Economic Strategy for Zimbabwe’s Economic recovery. This Economic blueprint, “Austerity for Prosperity” is Mthuli’s modus-operandi to curb Government expenditure, increase revenue and deal with the country’s domestic and sovereign debt.
It is from this approach that the government is surreptitiously avoiding any meaningful increase of salaries for its workforce. Further to that, the Finance Minister has promised to retrench the government workforce, send some of them to early retirement and introduce temporal but not permanent minimal cushion allowances. Why is Mthuli committed to this approach which has crippled the purchasing power of the ordinary Zimbabwean, particularly the Civil Servants?
Mthuli is faced with two priority options, (i) to revive the economy at the expense of the suffering masses, or (ii) to raise the standard of living of the masses at the expense of the economy. As far as he is concerned, the former is better than the latter.
His headache is to reduce the civil servants annual wage bill cost which gabble 90% -97% of the country’s annual revenue. His agonizing austerity measures have managed to increase Zimbabwe’s annual revenue from an estimate of $2,978.3 million in 2017 to $3,247.9 million in 2018. To him, his policies are working well hence an increase of the Civil Servants income (Government Wage Costs) is an unwanted step back ward to his plan.
This can also be noted from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sibusiso Moyo’s recent interview in which he encouraged Zimbabweans to brace for an addition 3 years of suffering due to Mthuli’s “Austerity for Prosperity” measures. To the ordinary civil servant, surely this regime is not concerned about their poverty and daily struggles!
The Zanu PF regime is seemingly afraid of a replica of the 2008 bull-run inflation that left the nation hanging by the claws. There is no notable minimum wage in Zimbabwe but the wage rates of the country’s labor market have been determined by the elasticity of Civil Servant earnings in the past 38 years.
Any increase in the salaries of Civil Servants in Zimbabwe does not only determine the elasticity of wages on the labour market, but further influence the prices of goods and services. This can be seen by the Wage Push inflation that paralysed the country from February 2007 to November 2008 which shockingly reached 79.6 billion% after the adjustment of basic salaries.
Mthuli Ncube knows that any increase of civil servant salaries would in-turn lead to the government printing more money in order to alleviate cash shortages. Generally, any excess in money supply in any economic system can cause a ripple effect in a nation’s inflation.
This can be noted in many instances interalia the Germany Hyperinflation in 1923; United States Confederacy 1962-65 and also our very own Zimbabwe in 2008 as has been highlighted earlier. This increase of excess money supply and the inevitable wage push inflation is the demon that has made Mthuli Ncube paranoid. This fear has led to the neglect of civil servants!