Employees of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) have petitioned management demanding an urgent review of their salaries after claiming they are “incapacitated” to turn up for work.
In an August 30 letter addressed to the now sacked CEO Patrick Mavhura, the workers described their situation as “dire” after rampant inflation eroded their salaries.
The ZBC, the government’s major propaganda arm, is daily used to project a rosy picture of Zimbabwe’s economic prospects under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership. The reality is much different in the workers’ homes, the letter reveals.
“The majority of the families of your workers are now living on one meal a day. In addition, the majority of your workers are no longer able to buy lunch and thereby spend most days at work without eating anything. The current situation prevailing is no longer untenable and it is affecting performance at work thereby compromising the quality of production,” the workers said in the letter seen by ZimLive.
They added: “We think you are fully aware of the volatile nature of the economic situation we are in. Most employees are now unable to purchase basic commodities, pay rentals and commute to work. Currently, the bread basket is ZWL$1,600.”
The workers asked management for a “once-off cushioning allowance” of ZWL$1,000 while the works council negotiates for improved pay.
Currency reforms announced in June by finance minister Mthuli Ncube to re-introduce the Zimbabwe dollar have seen workers’ salaries shed value tenfold as the local currency continues to weaken to the United States dollar against which it was previously given a tenuous pegging of 1:1.
The pressure on incomes amid triple-digit inflation has put the government on a collision course with its workers, with doctors set to walk out on Tuesday after they also declared “incapacitation”. Teachers have threatened to go on strike when the new school term opens.