Workers renew calls for dollarisation

Chris Mahove

The recent hikes of service fees by most government departments, pegged in USD, have triggered fresh calls for dollarisation amid concerns workers’ salaries in local currency would not match them.

The workers also noted the galloping prices of basic commodities such as bread, cooking oil, fuel and transport fares, which they said had gone out of reach of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“Recently, the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council, most government departments and public hospitals which are used by the poor have hiked their fees pegging them in USD. The moves are a direct confirmation that the nation has dollarized but salaries remained pegged in RTGS. The government and employers must wake up to the reality of dollarization and pay workers living wages in a stable currency,” ZCTU Acting Secretary General, Runesu Dzimiri said in a statement.

Dzimiri said while everything else was going up and denominated in USD, workers’ salaries remained stagnant.

“In recent months, the cost of living has risen to unprecedented levels and we demand that the government take a bold step to correct the situation and cushion the consumer,” he said.

He said workers bore the disproportionate brunt as wage increases had lagged inflation, with majority being relegated into the working poor.

“The inflationary tax has eroded workers’ wages. The only stability that can be administered to stop the bleeding is to fully dollarize the economy. It is in this vein, that the ZCTU is calling for the urgent convening of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) whose sole agenda would be to discuss the issues of rising prices and the erosion of workers’ salaries,” he said.

Dzimiri said because of chronic high inflation, economic agents had lost confidence in the Zimbabwean dollar as it no longer effectively fulfilled the major functions of money.

He warned that the current situation had become unsustainable and could be a catalyst for civil unrest.

“The economic instability is also known to contribute to mental health challenges at the workplace and this will have serious negative repercussion on both production at the workplace and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),”.

The government is however, adamant that it would not fully dollarize the economy and is encouraging the use of the local currency.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube has on several occasions insisted that Government was still pursuing de-dollarisation, saying dollarisation was a bad idea.

Ncube argued that the improved industrial capacity utilisation was a result of the presence of the domestic market.

He insisted the use of the Zimbabwe dollar had made the country’s economy competitive.

“It has made our economy competitive; we cannot use the US dollar as a sole currency. That will be a very bad idea indeed.”

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