LEGISLATORS have challenged Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to present a ministerial statement on the erosion of salaries and the incapacitation of many workers amid skyrocketing inflation.
Zimbabwe’s economic woes are continuing to mount with the country currently battling rising food prices, inflation and unemployment.
Although Zimbabwe’s inflation is officially 75.2%, an independent estimate puts it at 791%.
Many workers are being paid in local currency, but wages have been eroded, with over 70% of transactions now in United States dollars, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZimStat).
This week, the Zimbabwe dollar hit a 14-year low of ZW$3 600 against the United States dollar on the parallel market and has lost 93% of its value against the greenback since January 2022.
The country has also topped economist Steve Hanke’s Annual Misery Index, both in sub-Saharan Africa and worldwide.
This week in Parliament, opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) chief whip Prosper Mutseyami challenged Ncube to respond to questions surrounding inflation and worker incapacitation.
“Questions have been put across. My prayer is for the honourable minister to come up with a ministerial statement so that members will interrogate the honourable minister, one-on-one, over various issues to do with the salaries and the incapacitation that has been caused,” Mutseyami said. Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi said Parliament will convey the message to Ncube.
Norton independent MP Temba Mliswa said inflation has also been blighting Constituency Development Funds (CDF) disbursed to legislators.
“It is more of the same with honourable Mutseyami, but the Speaker ruled that the minister of Finance would be here to respond to these issues. We see him globe trotting in the shops instead of coming here to answer questions. We want him to come and answer questions which the Speaker has spoken about. We were assured by the Speaker that he would come,” Mliswa said.
“We were given Z$11.4 million for CDF when the rate was US$1:Z$1 000 and now it is Z$3 500. If you look at the ZW$11 million, it is about three or four thousand. What are we going to do with that? Already we are going towards elections and we had promised the electorate boreholes and other programmes.
“Now you cannot even do them. What is the point of giving us the money? If we are to be given that money, can we have a top-up to deal with the inflationary environment which is there. Otherwise for me, I am not touching the money and my electorate must know that. It will make me lose.
“What do I do with US$3 000? No wonder why these members of Parliament, especially from Zanu PF lost in the primary elections. It is because of inflation. They were telling people that they would do a, b, c and d. They never did it and they lost. The person who won against them came and did exactly what they did not do. You cannot blame them for losing. It is the system which is fighting us,” Mliswa said.
Mliswa said Ncube should come to the House as a matter of urgency.
“The minister of Finance must come here. It is a national issue which honourable Mutseyami brought up. Why is he quiet? If we are going to dollarise, let us dollarise. The RBZ has been selling US dollars on the auction market to perceived businesspeople for purposes of importing goods to make sure that there is increased production through the availability of cheap foreign currency to those people.
“It has however proven that there has not been an increase in production in the various sectors, which may indicate that the people who have been getting that money might have possibly been using that system to obtain money at a cheaper rate.
“They would then syphon it through using false invoices for purposes of fake imports, thereby fueling the parallel market rates by selling the US dollars through the parallel market, instead of using that foreign currency to benefit the nation.
Particularly in the sense that we have not seen the increase in the production which was supposed to be exhibited directly by the reduction in the price of bread but it is increasing.
“All other materials including building materials are increasing in price, which means there has been no benefit. So, it is my plea that the honourable minister comes to this august House and give a ministerial statement giving an audit trail on how from day one to date, the auction system has benefitted anyone other than actually supplying US dollars to the parallel market and fueling inflation,” Dube said.