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Zimbabwe's Low-Paid Civil Servants Struggle to Make Ends Meet


Zimbabweans in nearly every walk of life face the same dilemma as civil servants with compensation in the private sector also hobbled by the fragile state of the economy and a scarcity of foreign direct investment

Zimbabwe's civil servants have threatened to go on strike next week unless the Harare government reconsiders the modest salary increase it has put on the table for 2011.

But Zimbabwe Teachers Association Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Ndlovu told reporter Brenda Moyo that before striking, public workers will engage the unity government.

Representatives of Zimbabwe's public employees this week pressed the government to boost public pay – but officials reiterated that Harare does not have the funds to raise salaries, leaving teachers and other civil servants struggling to make ends meet.

The government on Thursday offered state employees a pay increase averaging US$56 a month, taking wages for many workers barely over US$200. Union leaders and others representing public employees described the proposed increase as paltry.

Zimbabweans in nearly every walk of life face the same dilemma with compensation in the private sector also hobbled by the fragile economy, which has stabilized and is growing, but lacks sufficient foreign direct investment to fuel job creation.

On the other hand, shelves in Zimbabwean stores are well stocked for those who can come up with the US dollars or South African rand - since late 2009 the country has been using a mix of hard currencies after abandoning the debased Zimbabwean dollar.

VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo spoke with a number of Zimbabweans including civil servants to see how they are making do with far to little to live on.

Most Zimbabweans with jobs are taking home no more than US$200 a month, so even they are developing sidelines in the informal sector to round out their incomes.

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