Saturday, September 19, 2020

Zimbabwe central bank sued by its employees

Chaos has rocked Zimbabwe’s central bank as dollarization continues to take its toll rendering local currency useless and workers have taken the bank governor to court for failing to pay them.

Since the dollarization of the economy started late last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) became of no use. The Zimbabwe dollar is valueless and no business accepts it. The United States Dollar, South Africa Rand and the Botswana Pula are three currencies currently running Zimbabwe’s economy.
Workers at the RBZ have gone for more than three months without pay.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party, the MDC, in the new inclusive government wants the RBZ governor , Gideon Gono, who is aligned to President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party chopped off from the central bank.

Gono is a close ally and personal banker of President Robert Mugabe.
Economic analysts believe Gono, 49, has played a central role in the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy.

The MDC accuse Gono of blocking international donors and also accuse him of printing cash to finance President Mugabe’s violent presidential election campaign in June last year, while the majority of the Zimbabweans were wallowing in poverty, sleeping outside banks as they were failing to access their hard earned money from the bank.

RBZ workers were used to flashy lifestyles when Gono used to surprise them with allowances when he was printing money with reckless abandon. They have seen their fortunes wane following the dollarisation of the economy.

On Wednesday, RBZ workers’ committee led by committee chairman, Wilton Mugabe, with the help of the labour union body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) dragged the central bank governor to the Labour Court for his failure to pay workers for the past three months.

“We do not know how much we are supposed to be earning. In January we once filed a complaint with a Labour officer on the above issues in terms of Section 93 of the Labour Act and to date the issue has not been resolved and the conciliator has since advised us (applicant) to approach the Labour Court for a remedy. Three months without a salary is unbearable and is a justified cause for the matter to be heard as an urgent issue,” reads an affidavit accompanying the court papers and signed by Mugabe.

Mugabe, in his affidavit, which is supported by other members, wrote that on 13 January after writing several communications to the Governor and some senior officers and failing to get a response, the workers issued a notice to go on strike.

He notes that the employer has unilaterally removed some staff benefits such as medical aid cover, medical loans, educational loans and canteen facilities.

The matter will go for hearing on Tuesday before Labour Court judge, Selo Nare.

The latest move by RBZ workers came just two weeks after heavily armed police barricaded the premises of the RBZ branch in Bulawayo along Leopold Takawira Street to bar striking employees from leaving the building to launch a street protest over pay. One worker was seriously injured and taken to hospital after armed police pounced on him during the brawl.

Gono has, in turn, blamed sanctions, commercial banks, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, black-market currency dealers as well as insurance companies for wreaking havoc on the economy.

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