ZCTU plans for mass action

Published: 07 October 2019
AS THE prices of basic good continues to zoom beyond the means of the majority, any lingering hopes as recently expressed by under-fire Finance minister Mthuli Ncube that the country's deepening economic crisis will soon let up are dead in the water, the Daily News reported.

This comes as an agitated Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) warned yesterday that it would soon call for rolling mass actions, to protest the government's lack of care about the worsening plight of Zimbabweans.

It also comes as long-suffering citizens have just been dealt another heavy blow, after the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) once again sharply increased the prices of fuel at the weekend, in a development that is set to stoke the prices of goods further.  This saw the price of diesel shooting up from $12,42 a litre to a whopping $15,64 while petrol went up from $11,76 a litre to a staggering $14,97.

The new fuel prices came barely three days after the country's power utility, Zesa Holdings, also announced a shocking tariff hike of 583 percent. Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, a wide cross-section of Zimbabweans described these latest price increases as a recipe for disaster and an indictment on the government adding that authorities needed to act urgently if civil unrest was to be avoided.

Tendai Biti, an opposition kingpin and former Finance minister in the stability-inducing government of national unity, said more Zimbabweans would be pushed to the economic brink as a result of the increases and the government's lack of concern for citizens.

"There is no rationale to all this. The government does not care as
it is totally irresponsible. How can you keep increasing the prices of fuel when the real wages of workers are being eroded?

"Mnangagwa should not be anywhere near the office of power. If this persists, it's going to be a disaster. It means that ... more people are going to die of hunger," Biti said.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said life in the country was set to get more difficult for the majority of Zimbabweans.

"If we have fuel prices at $15 a litre now, it means that by the end of the year it could exceed $45 to $50 if nothing is done.

"As a result, there are high chances that the mood of the people will soon reach a combustible point, with prospects of protests across the country.

"I can say without any doubt that it will be a bleak Christmas this year unless something dramatic happens between now and the end of the year," Masunungure said.

The ZCTU secretary-general, Japhet Moyo, said the prices of goods had not been matching wages since the government embarked on its recent fiscal and monetary policies.

"So far, the highest salary increase has been 50 percent, but goods have gone up by 100 or 200 percent. This has left workers impoverished.

"We are back to the 2007/2008 era, with the only difference being that during that period there was nothing on the shelves. This time people are starving while looking at the goods in the shops.

"We are now planning a very sustained campaign (strikes), and Zimbabweans should brace for that. We are going to organise sustained campaigns of protests week in, week out.

"We are not going to be deterred by threats of any kind or numbers which may be significantly low at the beginning ... We are left with no alternative but to air our views through urging people not to go to work," Moyo said.

The president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Henry Ruzvidzo, said the situation in the country was "fast running out of control and has its roots in the continued injection of money into the economy that is unmatched by foreign currency and production".

"The model is unsustainable and will ultimately lead to product shortages ... it is causing serious hardships to consumers.

"The fiscal and monetary authorities have not helped the situation as they have not handled the financing of government projects in a way that is not inflationary," he said.