Motorists wait for their turn to be served at a fuel queue in the capital Harare, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Zimbabwe's president has more than doubled the price of gasoline, hoping the increase will end severe shortages that are fueling public anger. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
HARARE – Employees at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority have served notice of downing tools over rising costs, piling pressure on President Emerson Mnangagwa's administration that was battling to contain pockets of demonstrations in some suburbs on Monday.

Other civil servants such as doctors have been on strike in the past few weeks and only agreed to return to work last week. This comes as commuter operators hiked fares by more than 100 percent on Monday after Mnangagwa raised the price of fuel by more than 200 percent on Saturday.

Zimbabwe said at the weekend that it will introduce a new local currency in the next 12 months despite growing calls for re-dollarisation. Some outlets have also started to demand payment for goods and commodities in forex.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Allied Workers Trade Union said in a letter to the revenue authority on Sunday that its members were "concerned about the rapid deterioration of conditions of work" across the country.

Dominic Manyangadze, the president of the revenue collection workers union, said in the letter that "the bus fare to work had risen to "Z$10 return trip against the $3 return trip being paid by the employer" as well as "systematic erosion of the value our members' salaries" and "sharp rise of prices of basic commodities"  yet salaries remain static.

"For the above reasons, the workers can no-longer retirement funds to subsidize the employer on transport. Most of our members are unable to report for duty with effect from the 14th of January 2019 due to incapacitation," reads the letter by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority employees union.

Social media sites and pages circulated pictures and videos of people walking to town after the steep rises in commuter fares. In some suburbs, police vans were seen speeding to disperse demonstrators who had barricaded roads and were blocking commuter transporters from ferrying people to work. 

The umbrella workers union body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has also called for strike action. It said this was because of the “provocative increase” of fuel prices by the government.

If we do not act now soon everything will be down. It will take us a long time to recover again,” said the ZCTU on Monday. “That's why we are saying labour and business must shutdown and speak to Government with one strong voice,” it declared.

However, main businesses were open in the CBD, with supermarkets such as OK Zimbabwe, Pick n Pay and others operating normally. Outlets of the country’s biggest mobile operator, Econet Wireless, were also functional.

Mnangagwa left Zimbabwe early on Monday for a bilateral visit to Russia. He will also be in Davos for the World Economic Forum. 

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the government was cushioning formal businesses from the fuel price hikes through tax incentives to ensure that they do not further raise prices.

“Cognisant of the need to prevent generalized price increases for goods and services following the fuel price adjustments, the government has decided to provide relief through a refund of excise duty on fuel consumed by registered businesses in manufacturing, mining, agriculture and transport (sectors),” said Ncube.