Tsvangirai: "Policy paralysis" affecting economic growth

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    Addressing members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in Harare, the former trade unionist also ruled out a review of civil servant salaries.

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    Zimbabwe’s civil servants have been on strike since last week, demanding a monthly salary increase to at least 500 dollars, from the current average of about 200 dollars.

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    ‘We have a problem of policy paralysis in the coalition government with some thinking this way and some that way,’ Tsvangirai told trade unionists.

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    ‘I certainly believe that engagement with workers is the only way to go if we are serious about developing the nation and fully recovering the economy,’ the premier added.

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    He was speaking at the launch of a ZCTU economic development project titled ‘Beyond the Enclave: Towards a pro-poor and inclusive development strategy for Zimbabwe.’

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    ZCTU argues that the lowest paid worker should get at least 500 dollars, which is the country’s poverty line. However the government says it has no money to pay civil servants such salaries.

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    ‘The GDP (gross domestic product) of the country is around 7 billion dollars, if you are generous, and our debt is 7 billion dollars, so we have nothing,’ said Arthur Mutambara, Tsvangirai’s deputy.

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    But in an interview, ZCTU secretary Wellington Chibebe warned the government that it was sitting on a time bomb.

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    ‘If you hear members of the army complaining about salaries, then you know that it is a question of time. The government will soon not be able to contain the situation,’ Chibebe said.

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    Mugabe, of Zanu-PF, wants to hold elections this year, ending the coalition government with Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). However the premier insists that key political reform must be implemented first.