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.
Epworth today as #Zimbabwe workers plot national #ZimShutdown meanwhile President Mnangagwa left the country for Davos on Sunday a day after increasing the price of fuel by 150% #ShutDownZim pic.twitter.com/PT0zLHGwwL— Povo News (@povonewstv) January 14, 2019
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.
President Mnangagwa has left the country for Moscow. He was seen off by VP Chiwenga, VP Mohadi, Chief Secretary Dr Sibanda, Service Chiefs and senior Govt officials. VP Chiwenga is the Acting President.— Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting (@InfoMinZW) January 14, 2019
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.
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