Govt, civil servants headed for clash

GOVERNMENT and its workers are headed for a showdown amid revelations the civils servants were demanding United States dollar-denominated salaries post the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Nkululeko Sibanda

In the past, the government has repeatedly stated it was only able to pay its employees’ salaries in local currency because it was unable to generate enough foreign currency to pay them in US dollars.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya last month announced that the central bank, in consultation with the government, had revoked the ban on the use of foreign currency in the country.

The announcement, analysts said, had been long overdue given that the country’s official currency, the Zimbabwean dollar, had been on a free-fall against major currencies, sparking fears of hyperinflation.

The lifting of the forex ban has, however, raised hopes of a better life among civil servants in the months ahead.

Apex council secretary David Dzatsunga told the Zimbabwe Independent government employees were technically incapacitated by the use of the Zimdollar.

“Civil servants, like everyone else, are happy that government and the Reserve Bank have finally seen the light that all of us saw in terms of the use of the foreign currency in the country,” Dzatsunga said.

“It is clear that workers were technically incapacitated through the use of the local currency and we believe that the move to lift that ban on the multi-currency will indeed go a long way in addressing our challenges as civil servants.”

Dzatsunga said the RBZ move paved way for the workers to re-consider their demands to government.

“Everything is being delayed by the coronavirus. Once the 21-day lockdown is lifted, we are going to meet as civil servants and look at the situation wholesomely. Our bid is to assess the pricing of basic commodities, issues to do with rentals, transport and other basic essentials,” he said.

“These are the things that will give us an idea as to what should be our bid to government in terms of salaries.

But rest assured, civil servants are looking at US dollar or foreign currency-denominated salaries because our local currency does not work anymore.”

Zimbabwe has about 250 000 civil service employees, excluding members of the security forces.

Asked whether the government coffers would allow the employer to meet the salary demand in forex, Dzatsunga said workers had been assured by government on the availability of funds.

“We have held several meetings with the employer and officials from the central bank and they have assured us that the country has enough foreign currency. They have also assured us that they are in the process of enhancing revenue collection in the country. So, the issue of money is not an issue at all at this stage if we are to go by what we have been told by the government and monetary authorities,” he said.

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