Workers in Zimbabwe are contending with hard times, amid inflation eroded incomes, with prices of basic commodities skyrocketing, but the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube says companies are saving money by underpaying their workers.
Ncube who appeared divorced from reality as he could not tell the price of a loaf of bread, recently told a local publication (Financial Express) that companies are saving money by not paying their workers.
Ncube added that this is making companies competitive. Meanwhile, his sentiments have been viewed by some as silly, only fit to be said by someone who is totally out of touch with reality.
One analyst George Zenda, said it is worrying that such statements are coming from someone who is a renowned economist.
“Ncube is a renowned financial expert, but when he makes such statements, it boggles the mind.
“The workers are struggling to make ends meet, and he foolishly say companies are saving by underpaying them.
“What type of economics fundamental is that which says workers should be underpaid to save money?” Said Zenda who is studying for a PhD in economics at a local university in the capital.
In a related matter, the country’s civil servants, particularly the teachers, are currently up in arms with the government demanding a living wage.
Most recently, the civil servants rejected government’s offer to a 76% pay rise, saying the amount falls far too short of their expectations.
The teachers are vowing not to return to their classrooms, when schools open in the next few days, unless their grievances are addressed.
The Apex Council, which represents most of the country’s public service workers, recently said the proposal to boost salaries by 76 percent fell far below the demands of civil servants, who are struggling under the pressure of skyrocketing living costs.
The Zimbabwean government’s offer would see the lowest-paid worker taking home about ZW$1 023 (US$97) up from the current 582 (US$55).
In a statement, the Apex Council said “the offer does not meet the stated position of the workers, which is pegged at ZW$4,750 (US$452) for the least paid civil servant.”
Zimbabwe which is timid to share its own financial performance and benchmarks, smashed its rear view mirror by shelving the publication of year on year inflation figures.
Ncube since coming on board, has been doing unpopular economic policies and decisions, meant only to please the President Emmerson Mnangagwa regime.
Ncube the other day confessed that some of the decision he is making are purely political, therefore divorced from the economic fundamentals.
Responding to the revelation, political analyst Elder Mabhunu said; “In Zimbabwe even the most brilliant finance ministers in the world can not perform well because they could be arm-twisted by government and ruling party, against economic fundamentals.”
Meanwhile, respected world economist Professor Steve Hanke says; “With Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate at 541% per year, wages are going to have to rise significantly more than 76% to keep pace with the country’s runaway inflation.”