Zimbabwe is considering freezing incomes and prices as it battles to contain runaway inflation which has eroded household incomes and left many employees unable to afford transport costs to get to work.
Zimbabwe’s month-on-month inflation stood at 17.7% in September 2019 while year-on-year inflation, which is no longer officially published, is estimated to have reached 353% in the same month.
At the last official count, year-on-year inflation stood at 175.6%, before Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube banned publication of annual inflation figures saying they were not a true reflection of prices on the ground.
The Zimbabwean government abandoned the currency peg of the local currency to the US dollar, a move that has seen the Zimbabwean dollar lose 85% of its value in 9 months.
Retailers and service providers are however resisting the move away from the multi-currency system and when they are not charging in US dollars, they are pegging their prices at the unofficial, going exchange rate.
As prices continue to skyrocket, government workers recently gave notice to go on strike.
In a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by the public sector union Apex Council chairperson, Cecilia Alexander and organising secretary Charles Chinosengwa, the union said government had “brought nothing” to a “fruitless” meeting between the two parties earlier in the day.
“The employer brought nothing on the table. It was a zero offer, zero cushion and no interbank rate being applied. To add insult to injury, government has gone back on its earlier offer to pay all bonuses in November, confirming instead that they will pay over two months, meaning some civil servants will get inflation blighted bonuses,” according to the statement.
During a post cabinet briefing held on Tuesday, Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said government does not dispute the need to give a cost-of-living adjustment to workers but it was faced with various competing national demands which include payment of annual bonuses that will take a significant portion of resources.
In addition, said Mutsvangwa, government is putting measures to “contain loss of the workers purchasing power and request worker representatives to provide three nominees to attend a Tripartite Negotiating Forum Technical Committee workshop.”
“The workshop is aimed at coming up with a Social Contract that is aimed at bringing the parties to a common position.
“This may result in the freeze of incomes and prices,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.