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Zimbabwe government workers to strike over low pay

Zimbabwe is struggling with an economic crisis as President Emmerson Mnangagwa tries to overcome decades of mismanagement, sanctions and hyperinflation under former president Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main government workers' union announced Friday they will stage a protest march next week to press for higher pay after galloping inflation rendered their wages worthless.

Zimbabwe is struggling with an economic crisis as President Emmerson Mnangagwa tries to overcome decades of mismanagement, sanctions and hyperinflation under former President Robert Mugabe.

"The civil service apex council has unanimously resolved to stage a demonstration on 6 November," Cecilia Alexander, chairperson of the umbrella union said in a letter addressed to the labour ministry.

The planned march comes a week after the civil service union said inflation, which in June reached 176%, had eroded the value of salaries and many workers could no longer afford basics including food and transport to work.

The decision adds to Mnangagwa’s woes as state doctors entered their 59th day on strike on Friday after defying a court order to return to work, saying a pay rise offered by the government failed to meet everyday costs.

Fuel prices have increased by more than 400% since the start of the year, and labour leaders say doctors had to use their savings just to show up to hospital each morning.

Nurses at two of the country's largest government hospitals in Harare last month joined the action and reduced their working days from five to two, according to their association. They later entered into negotiations with the government.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Mugabe, who died in September, has promised to revive the economy and declared Zimbabwe "open for business".

He had also pledged to end the country's international isolation, woo back investors and generate economic growth to fund the country's shattered public services. But the economy has declined even further.

In January, Mnangagwa announced a more than 100% hike in fuel prices triggering widespread protests which left at least 17 people dead and scores injured when soldiers opened fire on the strikers.

A government document early this year said around 7.5 million people - around half of the population - in both rural and urban areas would require food aid between February 2019 and March next year.

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