All the seven major trade unions in Zambia that attended the consultative labour meeting in Kabwe yesterday have declared a dispute against the PF government’s plans to impose wage freeze and unemployment wage.
Sources say this is the first time in the history of Zambia that all the major trade unions representing the public service workers have taken such a stance, that is likely to paralyse government operations soon as the workers are demanding higher wages and better conditions of service.
While the PF government has been boasting about unprecedented salary increments to civil servants, these have been swept by unprecedented levels of price increases on major commodities such as mealie meal, fuel, transport, increasing inflation, depreciation of the Kwacha, and other economic mismanagement by the PF leadership.
As of yesterday, the Zambian Kwacha had again fallen by trading at buying K6.6123 and selling at K6.6323 to 1 US dollar and buying at K11.0915 while selling at K11.1284 to 1 British Pound according to the Bank of Zambia exchange rates. But these rates are much higher in Bureaus and Interbanking exchange rates.
The now bankrumpt PF government gave workers some salary increment and later imposed a two-years wage freeze, but now the trade unions have rubbished the whole idea and want salary increments this year to cushion them against the unprecedented high cost of living.
This week, Michael Sata’s well-fed uncle at the helm of mismanaging the Zambian economy, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, told off a Journalist from British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) not to worry about the high cost of living in Zambia. This was when the Minister was interviewed on BBC Focus on Africa, May 13, 2014.
Chikwanda, who is normally high on whisky from Lusaka Golf Club, lost his bearings in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Damian Zain accusing the reporter of lacking objectivity for questioning Zambia’s economic credentials.
The usually calm Zambian Finance Minister who when referred to the International Monitory Fund economic report that pointed to a slide in the Zambian economic status said the Bretton Woods Institution was not a repository of all knowledge.
He said IMF was known to justify absurdities.
“But please do your research next time and don’t make people swallow your opinions,” said Chikwanda to the veteran broadcaster to which Zain responded, “I am actually looking at the IMF report right here with me and not giving you my opinions.”
Chikwanda said it was normal to have an economic slide and told the interviewer to be more concerned about his country.
“Everywhere things are changing; it is not just here even in your country the cost of living is getting higher in fact you should be more worried because of the cost of living in your country,” said Chikwanda.
Chikwanda, who is the same person who was Finance Minister under Kenneth Kaunda’s time when Zambia accrued a huge foreign debt and economy was heavily mismanaged, said Zambia was on a steady path for growth with the country’s currency hitting its highest depreciation levels against the US dollar in 23 years.