Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Florence Mucha Taruvinga’s overview of the year 2022 and end of year message to Zimbabwe

21 Dec 2022

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Florence Mucha Taruvinga’s overview of the year 2022 and end of year message to Zimbabwe


Fellow workers of Zimbabwe, comrades, friends and the ZCTU family at large, I humbly address you as the year 2022 paves the way to 2023.

As I address you, let me hasten to point out that 2022 has not been as fruitful as we had envisaged. We started the year with high hopes that things would improve but that was not to be. Our collective efforts to improve the welfare and livelihoods of workers and their welfare hit a brick wall as the economy continued to militate against our gains.

While we got a relief from the Covid-19 induced hardships with the economy opening up, inflation remained a major challenge which eroded the purchasing power of the already meagre wages. Zimbabwe is currently the country with the highest inflation in the world which was at 268.8% in October 2022. The annual inflation rate still remains quite high and this has disproportionately affected the working population the majority of who are predominantly employed in the informal economy through an erosion of their real incomes. According to Zimstat while 3.3 million of the 9 million working-age population were currently employed, 88% of the employed population were informally employed.


The proportion of the working poor has increased markedly with average salaries lagging the poverty datum line (PDL). The average minimum wage in Zimbabwe as at November 2022 was about ZWL$98,000 (US$155 at the then prevailing official rate and US$131 using the then average black-market rate). The high inflation has resulted in the skyrocketing of prices of goods and services while salaries and wages remain suppressed and this has relegated most workers into the working poor.

Most workers continue to earn wages in  ZWL when the economy has self-dollarised and this has proven to be problematic as workers face the brunt of ill-affording basic goods and services that are charged in forex.


As a labour body we reiterate our position that for the time being, the solution to problems and the only inescapable solution is for the government to abandon the local currency and resort to United States dollars until all the economic fundamentals are in place for the re-introduction of the Zimbabwean dollar.


As you are aware, collective bargaining is our trump card as unions, but these have remained talk shows resulting in nothing. Our 2022 goal was for all workers to earn USD denominated salaries and wages but the obtaining laws are mitigating against that. Our social partners are not negotiating in good faith at all negotiating platforms. For instance, up to date government has not gazetted the recommended USD150-00 minimum wage for it to be effective. This clearly indicates the non-committal of government to alleviate the plight of workers. On the other hand, employers are exploiting that gap to pay low wages. Employers, on the basis that the ZWL is the base currency are generally opting to pay allowances in forex while salaries remain fixated in ZWL. This has a negative net effect on overall social protection as workers would have low pensions upon retirement, cannot access meaningful loans from banks, cannot afford medical and educational service.

Government has failed the Tripartite Negotiating Forum. The platform has not delivered to expectation and it is therefore our view that the TNF Act needs to be revisited for its decisions to be binding not this arrangement where its decisions are subject to approval by cabinet. We have already made it clear to the partners that come 2023,  labour shall boycott TNF meetings next year if the other social partners continue to act in bad faith for selfish ends while sacrificing workers. 

The working class has also not been spared from the harsh economic realities of power load shedding, water rationing, transport blues, Gender Based Violence and a generally repressive political environment over the year. The labour landscape is fraught with child labour in the farms and mines, inequalities, precarious work and wage theft.


Workers’ rights violations have been on an upsurge particularly from Chinese employers. The abuses range from underpayments, physical abuse, non-provision of personal protective equipment among others. Their general disregard for the four pillars of decent work is a serious concern that needs the collective power of workers to unshackle. The modern day slavery that the Chinese are imposing on locals needs to be fought tooth and nail.

During the year, we  have seen the arrests of trade union leaders particularly from the teaching fraternity for exercising their rights to demonstrate for better wages. The teaching field also saw the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education  suspending striking workers for three months without pay for demanding a living wage without following due processes.


Zimbabweans continue to face serious challenges of injustices and shrinking of civic space.  Repressive legislation remains in place while interference in trade union activities by State agents continues unabated. Repressive laws remain in place and interference in trade union business by the police and other law enforcement agencies remain widespread. Trade unionists were threatened. The government hoodwinked the world claiming that they were repealing laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to Information and Protection of Private Act (AIIPA), but instead they just changed the names to Maintenance of Public Order Act (MOPA) and Freedom of Information Act. The content remains the same with repressive clauses remaining intact.

Another law that governs the operation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has just passed Parliament and the Act will restrict operations of NGOs, including expelling those they deem to be working on political matters.

In 2022 we have also seen, with great concern and alarm that Cabinet approved the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Amendment Bill 2022, that will impose stiff penalties to Zimbabweans who are alleged to be campaigning  against perceived national interests. The Bill will criminalize any conduct that is deemed to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty, dignity and national interest. The Bill effectively bars Zimbabwean from talking to foreign governments on the prevailing situation in the country. Zimbabwe does not need this Bill and by approving this law,  the Government is shooting itself in the foot as this will cement the widely held view that Zimbabwe is under authoritarian  rule. There is no doubt that this Bill will be used as a weapon against opponents of the government to  clampdown on dissenting voices.


The political situation is likely to reach boiling point next year as we approach the 2023 watershed elections. This poses serious challenges for workers particularly those in the informal economy. Political players must preach peace and tolerance to avert a bloody election.  The ZCTU is deeply concerned with the
resurgence in inter-party violence that flared up during the 2022 by-elections.. We view this as a warning that political players are willing to go to any lengths to retain power. Political parties should show maturity and lead by example by being tolerant to divergent views and preferences.

As we navigate 2023, let hope and optimism be our currencies. Our prayer is that 2023 brings us better socio-economic prospects and improved conditions of work. Our promise to the working class is that we will not forsake you, we shall do all we can in our capacity to defend workers' rights and interests. We promise to escalate our watchdog role, rejuvenate our activism and speak truth to power on all areas of concern without fear.

We renew our demands to direct us towards overcoming challenges to achieve, among the following :-

  1. A living wage in a stable currency.
  2. Functional Social Dialogue process
  3. Campaign for observance of the rule of law and a violence free election process
  4. Address of the economic meltdown and the endemic corruption.
  5. Finalisation of the Labour Law Reform.




Promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all, remains one of the most daunting challenges facing the country. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, economic growth in the country has not been fast and inclusive enough to absorb the growing labour force and to have a significant poverty reduction impact. The economy is officially projected to slow down to 3.8% in 2023. This is however strongly dependent on good rainfall which should have a positive impact on the agricultural sector as well as power generation at Kariba. In the short to medium term the economy will continue to face structural challenges arising from high levels of informality, high public debt, power outages, a fluid/uncertain political environment and institutional weaknesses. This will continue to weigh down on economic growth.


Given the complexity and sensitivity of the structural challenges the country is facing and the inherent policy conflicts involved, we urge the authorities to urgently negotiate a Social Contract with issue-specific protocols to deal with the challenges in a holistic and integrated way. The adoption and implementation of the National Employment Policy anchored on broad-based social dialogue and consultations must also be prioritised as well as the reform of Parastatals in a socially sensitive and inclusive manner.


UNITY is our war cry for 2023. As we reflect on our 2022 demands we note that a lot still needs to be achieved.


Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.


God Bless you all.


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