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Zimbabwe main labor body: We want U.S. dollars or you'll get strike

Christian Fernsby |
Zimbabwe's largest labor union hreatened to organize mass protests if the government does not rescind its decision to ban use of the U.S. dollar in the economy.

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Instead, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) pressed with its demand for workers to be paid in United States dollars.

The Zimbabwe government on Monday scrapped the multiple currency regime that has been in existence since 2009 and re-introduced the Zimbabwe dollar as the sole legal tender.

The Zimbabwe dollar is currently made up of the electronic RTGS, bond notes and coins that were introduced in 2016 to tame cash shortages in the economy.

ZCTU president Peter Mutasa told reporters that his organization will mobilize workers for mass protests if the government does not reverse its decision to ban the multi-currency system.

"The ZCTU has not moved from its position that the short-term solution is to dollarize and we are going to the TNF (Tripartite Negotiation Forum) meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to demand United States dollar salary payments for all workers," Mutasa said.

Mutasa said it was unfair for workers to continue being paid in local currency which had lost value against other currencies amid a continuous rise in prices of basic commodities.

He said the ZCTU will use the Wednesday TNF meeting with government and business to express its displeasure over the ban on use of multi-currencies for trading purposes.

Zimbabwe was using the U.S. dollar, British Pound, Euro, Australian dollar, Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen, Indian Ruppee, South African Rand and Botswana Pula as trading currencies.

However, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Tuesday the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar, ditched in 2009 after being rendered worthless by a decade of hyperinflation, was necessary to ensure the economy takes off.

He said the government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe were taking necessary steps to ensure that the new currency move succeeds, adding that the government will increase the supply of foreign currency into the inter-bank market.

He said while the multi currency system ensured stability of the economy, it did not give the country control of monetary policy and left many at the mercy of U.S. dollar pricing which was now driving inflation.

He said the conditions were now in place for Zimbabwe to have its own currency.

"When the majority earn in the local currency, but goods are priced in U.S. dollars, the outcome ill only ever be a two tiered economy: stable and affordable prices for those with access to dollars, while the majority face an unrealistically high cost of living. This is unfair and unsustainable," Mnangagwa said.

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