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Zimbabwe public sector workers petition employer on poor salaries

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s public sector unions on Tuesday staged a peaceful demonstration in the capital Harare during which they handed a petition to the government demanding an upward review of workers’ salaries.

The leaders of the unions said salaries of government workers had been eroded by rising inflation, making it difficult for them to make ends meet.

As part of the protest, the Civil Service Apex Council and Health Apex Council leadership marched to the offices of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Sekai Nzenza and her Finance and Economic Development counterpart Mtuli Ncube where they handed in a petition with their grievances.

According to the petition, the workers are demanding an alignment of their salaries to the interbank foreign exchange rate, currently pegged at around 9 Zimbabwe dollars to 1 U.S. dollar.

This comes after the government this week offered the workers a cushioning allowance of 97 Zimbabwe dollars, which was rejected by the workers.

"Civil servants are not asking for a salary increment but rather restoration of their earnings which fell from 475 U.S. dollars in October 2018 to a mere 47 dollars for the lowest paid civil servant," the workers said.

"In arriving at the figure for a cost of living adjustment, the interbank rate must apply, bench-marked against the pre-October 2018 average salary for the lowest paid civil servant.

"This will therefore mean the lowest paid worker should earn 4,750 Zimbabwe dollars to restore the value of their earnings," the workers added.

The Zimbabwe government introduced the foreign currency interbank market in February and discarded the 1:1 ratio it had maintained between the Zimbabwe dollar and the U.S. dollar.

The local currency debuted at 2.50 to the U.S. dollar, and has since depreciated to the current 9 dollars against the greenback.

The public sector workers argue that businesses were pricing their goods and services using the inter-bank exchange rate and hence were too costly for them.

Accepting the petition, Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare deputy minister Lovemore Matuke said the concerns of the workers would be dealt with through on-going negotiations between the government and its workers.

"We have received your petition and we are definitely going to look into the matters you have raised.

"I believe there are on-going talks which I believe will yield positive results," he said.

Zimbabwean government workers have been at odds with their employer since last year over poor salaries, resulting in intermittent strikes by nurses and junior doctors at public hospitals.

Nurses at government hospitals are currently working for at least three days a week, citing incapacitation to work normal hours.


Zimbabwe government summons British envoy following attack on foreign minister

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government has summoned the British envoy over an assault on foreign minister Sibusiso Busi Moyo and his delegation in London last week, state-run media reported Wednesday.

The Herald newspaper added that the government had also called for the attackers - who appeared to be predominantly Zimbabwean - to be prosecuted after they splashed Moyo with bottled water while hurling insults at him at the Global Conference for Media Freedom.

Moyo was on a four-day visit to the United Kingdom as part of the Zimbabwean government’s re-engagement thrust, under which he sought to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries and lure investors.

Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Pavelyn Musaka on Tuesday said the government was concerned about the incident, while a source told the paper that inexplicable laxity by security services allowed the assailants to pounce, despite top-notch security having been provided prior to the incident.

"Our Government - through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - has summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mr Giles Enticknap, to register our government’s protest against the assault on Minister Moyo and his Zimbabwe delegation to the Global Conference for Media Freedom co-ordinated by the government of the United Kingdom," she said.

"As organizers of the event, it was incumbent upon the Government of the UK to assess the threat level for all dignitaries and to provide under cover security details to protect Honorable Minister Moyo in the event of any unforeseen security situations arising.

"The Ministry wishes to inform our compatriots, members of the public that while Government of Zimbabwe respects the rights to freedom and the rights of its citizens to demonstrate peacefully as part of the democratic process be it here in Zimbabwe, in the UK or any part of the world that our delegations are invited to visit whether in their official capacity or in the personal capacities it objects to the assaults on Minister Moyo as head of the Zimbabwean delegation," she said.

She said the protesters’ actions were a violation of laws of both the UK and international laws regarding the protection of persons of Moyo’s stature.

"The Ministry therefore calls for the government of UK to take all measures necessary to bring the perpetrators of the violence against the minister to book for their actions," she said.

Following the attack, Moyo twitted to his followers saying that he was unharmed.

Kenya to grant citizenship to Shona people in 2020

by Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to grant Shona people, who are Zimbabwe descent, citizenship in 2020, a government official said on Thursday.

Gordon Kihalangwa, principal secretary for immigration and citizen services at Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, told at a migration forum in Nairobi that there approximately 3,500 Shonas living in Kenya.

"There is a current global effort to ensure that statelessness is addressed and Kenya being a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact for Migration is keen to ensure it solves the statelessness within its borders.

"Once the naturalization process starts it will take one year to conclude the exercise," said Kihalangwa.

Kihalangwa said that the Shonas came to Kenya in 1960s to work as missionaries.

They are stateless and have difficulty in accessing services such education, health and employment.

Kihalangwa said that a multiagency team has been put in place to spearhead the exercise of granting citizenship to the Shona people.

In 2017, Kenya began providing citizenship to the Makonde people who trace their roots to Mozambique.


Zimbabwe civil servants protest over depleted salaries

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Some union leaders of Zimbabwe’s government workers protested here on Tuesday, demanding a pay rise to survive soaring inflation.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency reported on Monday that the country’s year-on-year inflation rate in June rose sharply to 176 percent from 98 percent in May, driven by increases in the price of basic goods.

Representatives of civil servants gathered in front of the offices of the finance and labor ministries, holding placards with messages like "No to slave salaries," local media reported.

Zimbabwe industry capacity utilization to decline amid challenges

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Average capacity utilization in Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector is expected to decline to around 34 percent in 2019, down from 48 percent in the previous year as local producers struggle to overcome a cocktail of challenges, Industry and Commerce Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu said Monday.

He told captains of industry and commerce at a meeting that drought, Cyclone Idai, foreign currency and power shortages were among major challenges curtailing industry performance, state news agency New Ziana reported.

"As long as our capacity utilization is less than 60 percent, it shows that there are inefficiencies that we have and that we are pushing a lot of overheads into pricing, which makes our products non-competitive," he said.

In the past five years, capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector has failed to breach the 50 percent mark, peaking at 48.27 percent in 2018.

This year’s drought has impacted negatively on the agriculture sector, a key supplier of raw materials for the manufacturing industry.

The situation has been compounded by the shortage of foreign currency for imports of key inputs.

Power shortages, exchange rate instability as well as high inflation now at around 175 percent, were also weighing down the industry.

"We are monitoring the prices of 14 products which have gone so high in the past few months," he said.

"The price increases were mostly influenced by an exchange rate which was rising at an exponential rate," he said.

However, Ndlovu lauded the return of the Zimbabwean dollar, saying the move would improve competitiveness of local goods on the export market.

"I have no doubt a local currency was what we needed now, particularly as we venture into the export market," he said.



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