By Veneranda Langa
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi yesterday told Parliament that government had no immediate plans to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar, totally crashing any hopes by civil servants of having their salaries paid in United States dollars.
Ziyambi was responding to a question by Bulawayo East MP Ilos Nyoni during the National Assembly question and answer session.
“Government has no desire to abandon the Zimdollar,” said Ziyambi, which then prompted Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure to ask the minister if he was aware that shops preferred the US dollar and, therefore, civil servants needed their salaries to be in forex in order to survive.
“The MP is aware that when COVID-19 came, the Minister of Finance allowed the use of free funds. There was no pronouncement to say that we are going back to the US dollar that we do not produce. Our desire is to stabilise our currency so that the earnings of our people are not eroded. At no point are we going to abandon the idea of our currency,” Ziyambi said.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya then asked him to explain when the US$75 COVID-19 cushioning allowance for civil servants would reflect in their nostro accounts.
In response, Ziyambi said: “A policy position was taken to pay a 50% salary increase and US$75 COVID-19 allowance for three months to civil servants. Regarding the modalities, that is not my job to say.”
Harare East MP Tendai Biti then fired another salvo: “The Ministry of Transport through Statutory Instrument 161/2020 has announced that all vehicle number plates must be paid for in US dollars, and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through its auction floors is trading in foreign currency and has obliged all shops to display prices in US dollars and local currency and so are we going to officially dollarise?”
Ziyambi responded: “Let me repeat – government has no plans to abandon use of the Zimdollar and we are working to ensure it is the sole trading currency.”
In another matter, MDC Alliance proportional representation MP Lindiwe Maphosa asked Acting Health minister Amon Murwira to explain how government planned to resolve the health workers’ strike and demands to be paid in US dollars at a time when COVID-19 cases were rising daily.
Murwira said government was in dialogue with the health workers and that it was imperative for them to be at work.
“We had a wonderful conversation and are going to map the way forward based on availability of resources – the answer is as soon as possible and it could be now,” Murwira said.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe was also asked by Chikwinya to explain why police and soldiers were moving around telling people to wrap up their activities in 10 days because after that no one would be allowed into the central business district.
Kazembe responded: “I heard about this issue today from you. We will check whether that really is happening.”
Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema was asked to explain what was going to happen to November examinations since government has deferred opening of schools.
“Schools are not allowed to open, but the June examinations are going on. Whether we are going to write November examinations – I do not know. I did not create COVID-19,” Mathema said. News Day