Dialogue will help unlock economic gain

Government is alive to all economic challenges the generality of Zimbabweans are facing and everything the central authority is doing should not be misconstrued to mean bringing more misery to the citizenry.

Many Zimbabweans are aware the economic policies of the previous administration and the illegal sanctions imposed by the West among other issues are the cause of the majority of challenges being witnessed today.

We should also state from the outset that admittedly, this is one of the most difficult phases the country has ever gone through, but righting the wrongs of the past, particularly those that bear on the economy, will not come overnight and without pain given the extent to which this had dislocated the economy.

It is no wonder that the Government of President Mnangagwa has made fixing the economy, unlike the previous administration’s fixation on politics, its Number One priority. Hard and painful sacrifices will certainly deliver greater value and joy for this great nation and its good people.

Mindful of prevailing challenges and that the radical changes might cause more suffering, the new dispensation came up with an austerity driven US$8,2 billion Budget for this year characterised by salary cuts for senior Government officials and reining in unrestrained Government expenditure — including off-budget.

Government, especially President Mnangagwa and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube have made it patently clear that prosperity most Zimbabweans are looking for will not come without them first experiencing pain.

Yes, there was marginal salary increment for civil servants and in some cases price adjustment for some key commodities such as fuel, which have served as evidence of the pain forewarned by the leadership before enjoyment comes.

As all efforts go to the deck to rebuild what had undeniably become broken, key players to the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (Government, Labour and Industry representatives) should understand that the economy is already on the extreme edge and developments of the past week where protesters caused the shutting down of key services will result with no winners.

It is our humble submission that before organising demonstrations and shutdowns, dialogue remains key if the country is to come up with economic solutions to the challenges obtaining.

In the spirit of balancing all forces, it was not the wisest decision for labour, especially civil servants, teachers and doctors to be precise, to demand salary increments of up to 400 percent ($1,700), in light of Treasury’s limited resources and when inflation for 2019 is projected below 10 percent by year end. As employers and employees representatives negotiate for salary adjustments, surely it’s prudent that the parties agree on official inflation aligned salary increment to avoid a vicious circle and chaos in the economy.

In the spirit of austerity measures, Government has already suggested a 10 percent salary adjustment for its employees and indeed in line with the projected inflation figures, we feel quite a number of companies cannot afford anything more.

The workers should be patient as we wait for Government’s new measures to start bearing fruit this year and already, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Ncube, has indicated reducing PAYE for workers to cushion them from the 2 percent tax on every dollar transaction.

Our call to all labour representatives calling for shutdowns to protest the high cost of living and poor state of the economy is that no amount of salary increment will solve their challenges, but sorting out the economic problems.

We implore them to endure the effects of the austerity measures for this year only, as rightly pronounced by Minister Ncube and then enjoy later after the misaligned economic fundamentals have been addressed. Moving into the future, it is imperative that as Zimbabwe tries to hammer solutions to her economic challenges, all the people must put national interest first and individual egos last.

There is nothing that beats dialogue as a strategy to finding workable way forward and deadlocks should be needlessly declared. We believe all parties to the Tripartite Negotiating Forum can find each other and map the way forward — as they should.

Source : The Herald

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