Zimbabwe civil servants reject $21 million pay hike

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Public sector workers in Zimbabwe on Tuesday rejected a government offer of 180 million Zimbabwe dollars ($21 million) in added pay for the July-December period as inadequate in the face of soaring inflation, a union official said.

Zimbabweans are angry as a year-on-year price jump of around 100% has eaten the value of their wages and savings, recalling the horrors of hyperinflation in 2008. Hopes that living standards would soon improve under President Emmerson Mnangagwa have not been realised.

Daily power cuts lasting up to 17 hours and severe shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel, bread, and medicines are irking citizens who had hoped the end of Robert Mugabe’s rule after a 2017 coup would herald a new economic dawn.

Thomas Muzondo, deputy chairman of the Apex Council, a group of public sector unions, told Reuters the government’s offer would see each of the 309,000 civil servants receiving only an additional 97 Zimbabwe dollars ($11.28) a month.

That amount would buy less than 20 litres of petrol at a service station. The lowest paid government worker earns 430 Zimbabwe dollars a month, enough to buy a vehicle tyre.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told business leaders on Monday that President Mnangagwa’s government was ready to raise civil servants’ pay for the second time in three months, citing inflation

“We totally rejected that offer so they (government negotiators) will go back to their principals for further consultations,” Muzondo told Reuters.

“It was a total waste of time.”

He said the full Apex Council would meet in the capital Harare on Wednesday to decide its next step.

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