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  • Zimbabwean doctors went on strike for 40 days calling for better pay and improved conditions in public hospitals.

    Zimbabwean doctors went on strike for 40 days calling for better pay and improved conditions in public hospitals. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 January 2019

As the country endures the worst economic crisis since 2008, nearly 300,000 public workers are expected to participate in a nationwide walk-out.

Civil servants warned Friday they would strike within the next 14 days after public service unions rejected a 10 percent salary increase offered by the government Thursday, which would have amounted to an additional, yet meager, US$41 for the lowest paid workers.

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Nearly 300,000 public workers could participate in the walk-out in two weeks' time, Times Live reports.

The Apex Council, an umbrella body for civil servants, issued a notice earlier this week announcing the intent to strike, citing crumbling salaries due to the harsh economic conditions in the country.

“While we wait for the lapse of our 14-day notice to a full-blown industrial action, Apex council leadership will be visiting sensitive offices to protest against the deteriorating situation,” the civil servant's body said.

The rejection of the pay raise is likely to bring more pressure to bear on President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose administration recently faced a 40-day strike from health-sector workers, which ended Thursday with no deal.

Mnangagwa is presiding over the worst economic meltdown in the country since hyper-inflation in 2008. Inflation rose in the last months of 2018, reaching 31 percent in November according to the official agency.

The country's Finance Minister said  Zimbabwe will introduce a new local currency in the next 12 months, as a shortage of U.S. dollars plunges the financial system into disarray, which has forced businesses to close and threatens unrest.

Locals are haunted by memories of the Zimbabwean dollar, which became worthless as hyperinflation spiraled to reach 500 billion percent in 2008, the highest rate in the world for a country not at war, wiping out pensions and savings.

The southern African nation abandoned its own hyperinflation-wrecked currency in 2009 at the height of an economic recession, adopting the U.S. dollar and other currencies including sterling and the South African rand.

With less than US$400 million in liquidity according to central bank figures, there are fuel shortages and companies are struggling to import raw materials and equipment, forcing them to buy U.S. dollar notes on the black market at a premium of up to 370 percent.

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