BY PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
WORKERS have turned on the heat on Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, accusing him of presiding over the country’s economic collapse and ignoring the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) to help improve working conditions in civil service.
On Monday, Ncube presented new economic measures, but was mum on civil servants‘ salaries.
Workers, who attended the Public Service Productivity Summit in Harare yesterday, criticised Ncube’s new measures, saying the minister was out of sync with reality.
While announcing his new measures on Monday, Ncube promised housing loans for civil servants, but ducked the burning issue of low salaries that have been rendered worthless by inflation, currently at 191, 7%, the highest in years.
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions secretary-general Kennias Shamuyarira said Ncube also failed to consult members of the public on his budget review statement to be announced on July 28.
“How does Ncube announce a budget review statement without consulting members of the public? It will be silo-synchronised. Right now, the monetary policy has been reviewed, but what was supposed to happen first was the productivity review, which is now being discussed in this summit,” Shamuyarira said.
“When ministries have people whose intellectual acumen is at professorship, then we expect them to introduce the best practices within their ministries. We must not introduce arbitrage policies that only benefit the elite.
“People are suffering and workers cannot even have reserves from their salaries. Workers cannot manage to go to work because of stagnation. The monetary policy was reviewed two days ago and the TNF needs to stand up and debunk what we call stagnation in this country.”
As Ncube announced on Monday his measures to ostensibly cushion civil servants, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe also reviewed the monetary policy announcing that interest rates would be raised to 200% from the current 80%.
Critics said this would severely affect workers in the country who survive on borrowing to finance their daily requirements due to the low salaries earned.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo urged government to consult stakeholders first before crafting policies.
“When it comes to policy pronouncements, it appears (as if) authorities are not consulting adequately. They have been incidences, the latest being the recently announced economic measures. These policies have an impact on businesses and workers. We have complained at the TNF that authorities are supposed to consult.”
Moyo blasted Ncube’s measures which he believes fail to speak to workers’ salary issues.
“These economic measures don’t speak to issues of salaries at all. They are not clear on how they are going to rein in inflation. It is (as if) the minister and his team said nothing. Economically, they didn’t address any of the concerns that we workers are talking about. We don’t see how the measures are going to deal with the exchange rate variance between the interbank rate and the parallel rate,” Moyo added.
But Finance ministry spokesperson Clive Mphambela dismissed the accusations, saying: “Our ministry is open to consultations and policy suggestions. Do they want the minister to come to them?”