Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Zimbabwe burning: As country collapses, Ed to join WEF meeting

Zimbabwe burning: As country collapses, Ed to join WEF meeting

The main labour alliance, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for a three-day stay-at-home strike as it said the government had shown a clear lack of empathy for the already overburdened poor.

Police clashed with protesters in the Zimbabwean capital as the main labor-union confederation began a national strike after the government more than doubled fuel prices to the highest in the world.

Other measures which Mnangagwa announced to ease the economic pressure include what he said was "a package of measures" to cushion its workers, until a full review of cost of living adjustment package due to take effect in April in the context of the current budget.

Diesel cost $1.38 and petrol $1.43 a litre before Mnangagwa announced the new price increases.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced an sharp increase in fuel prices in a measure to improve supplies as the country struggles with its worst petrol shortages in a decade.

But many Zimbabweans criticised the move, worrying a knock-on spike in other costs would worsen an already hard economic situation and trigger protests and strikes.

"Cognisant of the need to prevent generalised price increases for goods and services in the country, with the attendant hardships which that will entail especially to the commuting workforce, the government has made a decision to grant a rebate to all registered business entities in manufacturing, mining, commerce, agriculture and transport sectors", he said. "Workers' salaries have been reduced to nothing and our suffering elevated to another level", it said.

Evan Mawarire, a cleric and activist who led the 2016 anti-government protests that shut down major cities, said: "You have cornered us and you leave us no choice".

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The government is dealing with shortages that have seen motorists sleep in fuel queues.

"We are now seeing the results of a volatility that has been building for some time and that every one has been very complacent about", said Piers Pigou, an expert in Zimbabwe with the International Crisis Group.

Looking exhausted after spending his second night in a petrol queue in Avondale suburb, motorist Edmore Phiri said: "We are not going anywhere with these piecemeal solutions that are not solutions".

"We are not going anywhere with these piecemeal solutions that are not solutions".

The government says the prices were lower than in other countries in the region and that some foreigners were taking advantage, buying fuel in bulk in Zimbabwe for resale elsewhere.

"The government is now aware that we are not happy with their stupid policies like the fuel price increase", said Nyoni, calling on the president to return home to "sort out things".

The acute shortage of U.S. dollars has made it hard for Mnangagwa's government to import not only fuel but also medicine and other goods. The demand for fuel intensified this week with the start of the new school term this week.

Doctors in state hospitals went on a 40-day strike beginning early December demanding salaries be paid in U.S. dollars.

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