Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has come under fire from the labour mother body Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) over his ‘austerity for posterity’ economic reforms agenda which has seen the country’s economy taking a nose dive barely a year after Ncube took over from Patrick Chinamasa.
Under the auspices of the Transitional Stabilization Program (TSP), aimed at stabilizing macro-economic fundamentals within two years, Professor Ncube introduced a raft of financial measures including the unpopular two percent tax drawn from electronic transactions for an amount exceeding $10.
The labour mother body understand Ncube’s reforms as neoliberalism that characterized the early 1990s Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) which left a number of workers wallowing in poverty and difficulties as retrenchments became the order of the day.
Addressing workers at Dzivarasekwa Stadium in Harare on Wednesday at the Workers’ Day Commemorations, ZCTU President Peter Mutasa lambasted government financial policies saying the new measures have subjected workers to unimaginable difficulties.
“We have seen last year the government announcing neoliberal fiscal and monetary policies that worsened the plight of workers and Zimbabweans in general. The new measures, instead of solving the economic crisis that the country faces, increased taxation and failed to find solutions to the cash crisis and high price of goods and services amongst a host of issues affecting workers and the general public.
“Among the measures is the two percent tax on every dollar on all electronic transactions which has a direct effect of overburdening the already overtaxed and underpaid workers,” fumed Mutasa.
The government has since directed some of the proceeds drawn from the two percent tax to the Cyclone Idai ravaged Manicaland Province; Chimanimani and Chipinge and some parts of Masvingo Province to assist victims as well as refurbishment of infrastructure.
Mutasa turned attention to the Chinese investments, slamming the Asian economic giants for failing to abide by the country’s rules of observing workers’ rights as well as failing to have environmental consciousness charging that Zimbabwe’s all weather friends be given marching orders.
“It is such liberalism that has seen the influx of the Chinese investments that have seriously caused not only environmental degradation, but introduced slavery at the workplace. It is in this vein that we call upon the government to reconsider some of these Chinese investments.
“We say NO to Chinese investments that lead to poor conditions of services, harassment and abuse of workers. Chinese investors, just like other investors, need to adhere to our rules and those not doing so must be given marching orders,” Mutasa fumed.
The May Day which is commemorated worldwide brought and refreshed horrible conditions workers have come across in the new millennium as economies tumble particularly in Africa with Zimbabwe being of no exception.
Zimbabwe has recently witnessed unprecedented price hikes of basic commodities making it very difficult particularly for civil servants to afford as their salaries remained stagnant with the government’s promises that the situation will be resolved remaining a pie in the sky.
The ZCTU which called for the popular mid-January 2019 stay away protest ultimately bringing the country to a halt, has given the government another warning that it will unroll new demonstration across the country this time collaborating with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to persuade President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government into a meaningful dialogue.