Zimbabwe mulls plans to raise public sector wages

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, speaks to the press after the swearing in ceremony for Zimbabwe's new cabinet ministers at State House, Harare, on September 10, 2018. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Zimbabwean government is ready to raise civil servants’ wages for the second time in three months, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Monday, after a labour group threatened protests.

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, speaks to the press after the swearing in ceremony for Zimbabwe’s new cabinet ministers at State House, Harare, on September 10, 2018. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Zimbabweans are angry as year-on-year inflation of around 100% has eroded the value of their wages and savings, recalling the horrors of the hyperinflation era in 2008.

Currency reforms introduced last month to ban the use of foreign currencies and make the interim RTGS currency the sole legal tender have done little to instill confidence that people’s living standards will improve soon.

“I have a (wage increase) figure already, and I am just waiting to hear from the unions. We will be meeting them tomorrow to hear their figures,” Ncube told a meeting with local businesses in Harare.

He said the southern African country’s central bank wouldn’t hesitate to raise interest rates above their current level of 50 percent to deal with people speculating on the value of the local currency.

Central bank Governor John Mangudya told the same event that Zimbabwean individuals and companies held around $1 billion in foreign-currency accounts, around three months’ import cover.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions threatened “mass action” last month after the government made the RTGS the sole legal tender.