Govt workers demand another cushion

December 23, 2021



Civil servants want another cost of living adjustment as a cushion against rising prices less than a month after the government paid bonuses to its workforce of more than 300 000 workers.

Civil servants were also paid their December salaries last week.

However, prices of basic goods have skyrocketed   over the past few weeks eroding the bonus and the December salaries.

Some civil servants started receiving their bonuses in foreign currency early this month.

Although the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, directed banks to allow civil servants to withdraw their bonus payments in full in US$ some banks have been forcing civil servants to take their US$ bonuses in Zimbabwe dollars.

The  civil service  Apex Council deputy secretary-general Gibson Mushangu told Business Times  that the government workers were pushing for another cushion before year-end.

Mushangu said the outlook points to a situation where the government workers will struggle to pay school fees when schools open early January 2022.

He said civil servants want the government to peg their salaries to the pre-October 2018 levels, which were about US$520 on average,  a move which will mitigate the inflationary pressures.

“We appeal to the government to deposit a cushion amount which will take us to the family basket of ZWL$54,000 after factoring  the ZWL$22,000 salary we got in December. The salaries which were paid on December 17 2021 has already been spent due to the fact that our wages are too little,” Mushangu said.

“Our salary of ZWL$22,000 per month has been overwhelmed within six days of payment and it’s very unfortunate that it has come in December and January where we have Christmas, new year and schools opening.

“We don’t know what we are going to do there but all we can say is that we have hit the hard times before the festive season with the situation expected to be tougher after the holidays.”

He said the pre-October 2018 salary cap of US$520 per month was going to be perfect for the civil servants and was going to help them.

“The rate has elapsed ZWL$200:US$1 on the parallel market  and with our ZWL$22000 we are getting US$110 while  basing with the auction rate we are getting US$208 per month which is still too low for our needs.”

The cost of living for a family of six as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) surged to ZWL$54 264.24  in November from about ZWL$35 000 in June this year,  following relentless price hikes stemming from volatile exchange rate and inflation.

The food basket increased by $2166.86 or 10.65 % to ZWL$22 517.65 by end of November 2021 from ZWL$20 350.79 by end of October 2021.

The price of detergents increased by ZWL$178.87 or 11.73% to ZWL$1703.59 from ZWL$1524.72.

“As CCZ, the increase in the total figure of the basket is attributed to the price increases shown above especially on the basic food items, due to inflation, influence of the exchange rate, speculation by consumers(fuelling demand towards the festive season) and in exceptional cases the parallel market.

“An increase in the movement of consumers, increase in activities of the market place and change of consumer behaviour patterns has resulted in the decrease of the consumer’s purchasing power,” CCZ said.

A police officer who preferred anonymity said the salary he is getting does not tally with the basket and there is need for a serious review.

“As for the basket, it is double my salary therefore I cannot enjoy the festive season later alone preparing for the back to school in early January. The authorities should increase salaries as we have families to look after,” he said.

The CCZ said the market is slowly adjusting to the displaying of prices in both US$ and local currency as provided for by the Statutory Instrument 185.

CCZ observed that most of the big supermarkets are complying with the Statutory Instrument 185.

The consumer representative body said it encourages consumers when they are buying in USD to be knowledgeable of the prevailing weekly auction exchange rate to avoid being overcharged.

The CCZ continues to encourage consumers to shop conscientiously and to always buy certified products.

“Where the products are not certified, consumers exercise their right to information by carefully examining if the products they are purchasing are well labelled, packaged and provided with vital information which includes manufacturing expiry dates and ingredients used in the make-up of the products,” CCZ said.

This survey is conducted every month.

The total cost of the food basket and the price of each commodity are arrived at by averaging prices gathered from retail outlets throughout the country.



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