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Extending Anti-Inflation Battle, Zimbabwe's Mugabe Unveils Wage Cap

President Robert Mugabe has ordered a freeze on all wages and prices in a further attempt to rein in runaway inflation. The state-controlled Herald newspaper said Mr. Mugabe is creating a new pricing commission that he will personally head.

Under the new rules, any price, fee or wage rise will need to be approved by this commission. Mr. Mugabe said the new regulations are intended to keep businesses from sabotaging the economy in an attempt to bring down his government.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's main labor confederation, said that it would "continue to mobilize workers to resist this satanic move which is not only economically wrong, but also morally suicidal." It said workers "are tired of being sacrificial lambs and bearing the brunt of bad governance and...economic policies."

The union declared that, "President Robert Mugabe's government has failed to run this country and he should be man enough and call it quits."

The latest decree came as teachers, on strike in January-February, demanded 400% salary increases to cushion the shock of inflation now running over 7,000%.

However, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, considered relatively pro-government, said its members will be in classrooms Tuesday when schools reopen. The association said it is too early to consider any labor action as negotiations continue. But the more militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has brandished a strike call.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association said the so-called APEX Council that comprises representatives of various categories of public employees including teachers is still in talks with the government on wages so it will wait for the outcome.

ZIMTA President Tendai Chikowore told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that her association is confident the talks will be productive.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...