Zimbabwe to give public workers living allowance, says minister

State employees threatened to join a strike by doctors and teachers unless the government addresses the impact of inflation on their salaries. Picture: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

Harare – Zimbabwe will give public workers a cost of living allowance of between 5 percent and 23 percent of their monthly salary, its labour minister told Reuters on Monday against a backdrop of strikes and violent protests in the country.

Sekai Nzenza said by phone that the allowance will be issued from January to March while negotiations with unions continue.

While a 40-day doctors strike ended last week, teachers remain on strike and civil servants have also threatened industrial action.

Soldiers patrolled Zimbabwe city streets on Tuesday as confrontations with demonstrators threatened to boil over, while banks, schools and businesses stayed shut a day after protests over the country’s collapsing economy turned deadly.

Monday’s unrest, during which several people died, followed sharp fuel price hikes decreed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who impatient Zimbabweans accuse of failing to live up to pre-election promises to kick-start growth.

Mnangagwa, absent on an official visit in Moscow, has also promised a clean break from the oppressive regime of long-term leader Robert Mugabe, who he forced out in a de facto coup in November 2017.

The president said Zimbabwe might need Russia’s help in modernising its army and was interested in receiving Russian loans, RIA news agency reported.

In Harare and Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo, witnesses said security forces were deploying to halt demonstrations, and many people in the capital said they could no longer access the Internet.

“We are suffering. Mnangagwa has failed this country. Enough is enough, we no longer want this,” said protester Takura Gomba in Warren Park, a Harare township, as he and a group of others retreated when they saw soldiers approach in trucks.