HARARE – Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, who has projected a 3 percent growth for its economy in 2020, said there would be no “silver bullet solutions” to the monetary crisis in that country and has asked citizens to have confidence in the Zim dollar unit introduced last year, while pleading for more time despite a worsening economic situation. The financial sector crisis in Zimbabwe has continued without ease, and the government on Monday had to award civil servants, including teachers, a cushioning allowance to avoid strike action. Demands for salary increases have further burdened the treasury, which is already stretched, as it has to provide funds for social-protection mechanisms such as subsidies on maize meal.
“Treasury notes the government’s decision to cushion members of the Public Service Commission from the adverse economic challenges through the awarding of an interim cushioning allowance for January,” said George Guvamatanga, the secretary for the treasury.
He added that the treasury had given concurrence to the “implementation of the cushioning allowance” by awarding a minimum of ZWL400 (about R400) and a maximum of ZWL800 for the respective lowest and highest grades.
Ncube asked for more time to turn-around the financial sector, and also implored Zimbabweans to have confidence in their own currency.
“Zimbabwe is going through a transition and you cannot have silver bullet solutions. If you are going through a transition, these things (currency reforms) will take time,” Ncube said.
There has been much criticism of Zimbabwe’s re-introduction of the Zim dollar in 2019, following about 10 years of multiple currencies in operation since the ditching of the local unit after record hyper-inflation in 2009.
“What is required is for citizens to have confidence in their currency but we as the government also have an obligation to ensure that the currency is stable, and once stability is engendered over time, we will see them move away from US dollar-pricing,” said Ncube.
He added: “It will take time and we have done everything in the past few months. We have done everything we can.”
On the official interbank market, the Zim dollar was trading at 1.17 against the greenback, while on parallel markets it had surged to 1.23 to the US dollar.