Businesses thriving on ‘free’ labour in Zimbabwe

Community Eye with Ngwindi Ngwindingwindi

We say “Kakara kununa hudya kamwe” in referencing to the state of affairs in our beloved Zimbabwe. There is nobody to cry on their shoulder and expect tears to be wiped by them.

I speak here on behalf of the downtrodden men and women who brave the winter cold going out to work leaving children who at every day end expect mummy’s handbag be laden with sweets and snacks. Little do they know their parents are mere sticks of cigarettes whose trouble is on both ends; one is burning, one is bitten.

The biggest opportunity for investors profiteering in Zimbabwe is cheap labour. Free labour has become one major profit area for businesses which are happily operating in the country, whose products and services are fetching foreign currency on the market while paying the worker in some currency which is hard to keep value even for just an hour.

Let me explain how this is working for them and where they are deriving the confidence to exploit the already vulnerable worker. A business hires hundreds of workers  to produce thousands of products which will then be put on the market where they are sold in US dollars; a tiny fraction will then be taken to the street where it gets millions of RTGS (Zimbabwe financial transacting method). The RTGS will be deposited into the worker’s bank account where every transaction attracts exorbitant charges. The same worker is living in a rented house whose owner only accepts payment in American green backs. The greenbacks are only available on street corners where the money vendor is smiling to take a good kill. By the time all these transactional activities are over, the worker is already looking to borrow on the same date he has been paid his salary.

Right, who do we blame here? I am going to start by responding to our dear finance minister Mthuli Ncube. The learned professor does not seem to grasp what really matters in the affairs of governance. His comparison of the GNU tenure and this turn of the second republic sounds insulting to the suffering masses of Zimbabwe. Building roads and bridges will not make sense in the mind of a hungry citizen. During the GNU period which he referred to, citizens were happy, and that is what is required first then talk of making roads and bridges. I believe the first republic whose majority of leaders make the second republic, had all these plans to make roads, but only after making sure that they had done considerably well to make citizens happy. So, the minister’s approach is that of a man with no will or clue to address challenges being face by the people.

I now come to apprehend the employers; they want to keep in business, so they must also make their employees happy to keep the business running. They know the trends in the economy, so they must adjust with every step the economy moves. They must never take advantage of politicians’ call to keep paying worker in some currency which they are not able to control.

Major culprit is the government which keeps uttering that there’s no crisis in the country when citizens are crying in every corner on daily basis. There is no greater insult on citizens which surpasses being told you are not hungry after going for weeks without food. The treasury in its pridefulness does not want concede to failure which is blatantly clear even in a toddler’s eye; they perennially promise measures which bear no fruits.

The politician has a duty to defend his ego while the government economist has a duty to dance to the political rhythm of his appointing authority, then ultimately the ordinary citizen’s duty is to wallow in the dungeons of poverty.

Investors have since found an open opportunity to quench their capitalist appetite as the platform has been created by some in leadership who do not seem to have any clue as to how to get the train back on rail. They are feasting on the workers who have no voice to stand for them. I am thus calling upon the government to be prudent in dealing with matter which affect people’s livelihoods to avoid resentment.

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