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Zimbabwe has introduced gold coins into the market. Pic credit: Aaron Ufumeli


Zim workers say gold coins beyond reach



TRADE unionists from across various sectors say the newly introduced gold coins are way beyond workers’ affordability and will not benefit the average citizen.


Zimbabwe introduced the Mosi-oa-Tunya gold coins on Monday which are being sold to the public, with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya saying they are meant to curb an inflation spike that has eroded the country’s moribund currency.

An initial tranche of 2 000 coins was disbursed to mostly commercial banks.

Mangudya said the coins “will have liquid asset status”, meaning they “will be capable of being easily converted to cash and will be tradable locally and internationally”. The central bank said the coins “may also be used for transactional purposes”.

Holders will only be able to trade them for cash after 180 days from the date of purchase. At launch this week, each coin was retailing for more than US$1 800.

In separate interviews, leaders of trade unions said workers will not afford the coins.

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said the educators stayed away from the gold coin trade because of poverty.

“Gold coins are not palatable to the poor but the rich who can get much money. As for teachers, no one has them. They are of no consequence to teachers. No teacher will go for them. The salary a teacher gets is inadequate even to buy basic needs, and so buying a gold coin is considered luxury,” he said.

Zhou added that teachers earn an average ZW$54 000 after the latest 100% salary increase, which is far less than ZW$800 000 which was the asking price for the gold coin on Monday.

“What we need at this historical juncture are not gold coins but US dollar salaries and the rekitting of our industries to improve production so that there is balance between imports and exports. We can then think of gold after stabilising our economy,” said Zhou.

Robson Chere, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general, echoed Zhou’s sentiments.

“Gold coins are generally not for teachers. They can’t afford. The government must just dollarise the economy to improve earnings of teachers. The gold coins scheme is similar with the so-called duty-free car incentive for civil servants who, again, are unable to import the cars due to their measly salaries,” he said.

While the gold coins are being sold in commercial banks, employees of those same financial institutions also said they cannot afford the precious pieces.

Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers’ Union national secretary-general Peter Mutasa, who is also the immediate past president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, said the price of the gold coins was not affordable.

“No ordinary bank worker can afford these coins. The minimum wage in the banking sector is ZW$220 000 only. It means workers have to save for all their net salaries for over five months to buy one coin,” he said.

He also said the coins will not address the inflation and local currency devaluation problems faced by the nation.

“Instead, it is going to cause more problems as it opens another avenue of arbitrage to the few rich and connected citizens. They will make lots of money at the expense of the majority poor. For workers, this is therefore a non-issue and they will only bear the cost of funding this heist by the rich through taxes,” said Mutasa.

Kenneth Shamuyarira, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, told The NewsHawks that members of the labour body in its entirety will not afford the gold coins.

“The least paid of our members earn about ZW$25 000 in salaries. The gold coins were pegged at ZW$800 000. In simple, it means we cannot afford. Our members are on slave wages, to be specific,” he said.

Shamuyarira also revealed that at a meeting of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum technical committee held in Mutare last week, the government, business and labour unions agreed that there is a need to take stock of measures introduced by the Finance ministry and the RBZ which continue to pile misery on ordinary citizens.

“We are in a hyperinflationary environment and there was consensus at our Mutare meeting that there is need to abandon cosmetic measures by the Finance ministry and RBZ regarding arresting inflation. There is need for more robust action to this crisis,” he said.

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