the business community in Zimbabwe has welcomed the Reserve Bank's dollarization
of the economy, many workers are feeling
marginalized and disadvantaged. They complain accessing foreign exchange (forex) remains difficult – if not impossible – because they're still getting
paid in the local currency.
Bank governor Gideon Gono initially allowed some retail shops and wholesalers
to use the US dollar and the South African rand to price their goods, in order
to boost trading and encourage economic activity. But some workers complain
they've been left even more vulnerable than before.
Red Star Wholesalers employee -- who requested anonymity – says while the
wholesaler's been licensed to trade using foreign exchange he's still being
paid in Zimbabwean dollars. The father of three explains what pains him most is
he can't buy several items he sells, despite being told he's "the number
one customer" when he was employed.
salaries the bosses are now saying that the government has not yet authorized
them yet to pay salaries in foreign currencies. The government is benefiting a
15% on every sales so by giving employees forex they have also to reduce the
15% to a reasonable percentage. So government is taking long to authorize
companies to give employees forex so that they keep on getting that 15%", he
the group's general manager, Samson Gurupira, says the country's labor laws
don't allow them to pay their employees in a foreign currency. He explains
they're waiting to be given the green light by government, to do so. He adds
it's ironic the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe demands its 15% share every morning,
before they bank the previous day's takings. The central bank requires all
licensed shops to bank their day's takings before 10am the following day. But
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union Mashonaland West Chairperson Mike Makanya
wants workers to be paid in forex arguing this the only way they'll be able to
are saying here the employer is now selling his goods in forex and what it
means is I have delivered my labour to gain things in forex then why
should I be rewarded in Zim dollars. The employer should complete the circle by
paying the worker also in forex , so that he can be able to also go and buy
those goods that the employer is selling or the business person is selling because
the same business person is the employer is that the employee is the consumer
in actual fact. He is the one supporting the community which is remaining
behind. So if he doesn't get the dollar in forex he will not be able to sustain
the business," he says.
trade unionist says nearly all outlets are charging in forex whether they're
licensed or not. Makanya adds he blames both the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and
police for not doing enough to protect the consumer.
we have got the licensed business and those who are not licensed but the
reality on the ground is that those who are not licensed are getting forex
still in the black market. They are selling their things in forex. We don't
have very excellent monitoring system. The police aren't able to follow up. So
you find that we will be in the same situation every business person
whether licensed or not because he knows no one is policing the system," he
Chinhoyi residents feel they're being ripped off by business operators. All
goods are priced from one US Dollar upwards as there's no silver. Most
operators just round off prices to the nearest dollar to avoid dealing with
phone operators have joined in the madness. They're pricing airtime in US
Dollars with the smallest recharge card costing 5 Dollars, a sum that's way
out of reach for many Zimbabweans.
lecturer at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, Dr Peter Mazarure, suggests
Harare should swallow its pride and formally "dollarize" the economy
so American banks can assist by providing local institutions with smaller
denominations. The academic says this will help operators reflect the true
value of goods on sale.
say they suspect the new system is a way to fill the government's coffers. This Chinhoyi resident says, "The
dollarization must be phased out because companies are making brisk business
and they are making money and yet seems they are just getting more money for
the government and RBZ yet the employees who are busy working that forex aren't
concern is that traders are refusing to accept the Zimbabwean dollar, rendering
it useless. Meanwhile
while most stores – be they licensed or unlicensed -- have stock, very few
shoppers are buying their wares.