THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the digital gold coins introduced by the central bank as a way of preserving the value of the local currency are meaningless to ordinary workers whose earnings have been eroded by the ever-increasing inflation.
This week, the government announced the introduction of digital gold coins it said will go a long way in stabilising the local currency. The coins can be bought at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and at local banks.
In addition, treasury also introduced a 100% retention of domestic foreign currency earnings, adoption of all external loans by Treasury, enhanced foreign exchange auction system and lifted all restrictions on the importation of basic goods.
However, in a statement ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said the digital gold coins are meaningless to the struggling workers whose RTGS salaries make them unable to afford the treasured pieces.
“The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is deeply disappointed by the measures announced by the Minister of Finance to ostensibly stabilise the exchange rate and macro economy. These measures will not improve the welfare of workers and Zimbabweans in general.
“The new measures, instead of solving the economic crisis that the country faces, fail to find solutions to the crisis and high prices of goods and services amongst a host of issues affecting workers and the general public,” he said.
Moyo added: “Measures such as 100% retention of domestic foreign currency earnings, adoption of all external loans by Treasury, enhanced foreign exchange auction system and even lifting of all restrictions on importation of basic goods is a nullity to a worker who is being paid in RTGS.
“There is nothing for the working poor who is choking under the yoke of high prices and low wages.
“Measures such as gold and digital coins are mere elitist deals to loot from the poor. How many workers can afford to buy the so-called gold coins or digital coins?” he asked.
Moyo also added that the government’s failure to consult workers on key issues regarding their welfare is the major reason for its policy failures.
“To date, efforts by authorities to bring the unstable macro-economic environment under control have not been effective. Most of the measures have been hastily implemented without adequate dialogue and consultations of all key stakeholders and partners.
“The economic environment continues to be characterised by high levels of volatility as evidenced by the fast depreciating Zimbabwe dollar as well as the incessant price increases in Zimbabwean dollar.
“While the economy has effectively dollarised in terms of expenditures (with more than 70% of total spending being denominated in USD), most workers continue to earn their incomes in Zimbabwean dollars.
“There has been a massive erosion of real incomes with the workers being disproportionately affected while the proportion of the working poor has increased markedly,” he said.
The firebrand trade unionist also lamented the top-down approach used by the government to address the plight of workers.
“The biggest challenge with reforms in Zimbabwe is that they are being implemented top-down and this has plunged the economy into the abyss in the first place, implying the trust and confidence deficit will continue to haunt the process.
“The populace has been hurt and suffered as a result of the wrong-headed policies that resulted in loss of value of our currency in the past and now, fiscal indiscipline, runaway inflation and corruption. We reiterate our demand that all workers be paid in USD until such a time the economy stabilises,” he said.