Cablegate: Employers' View of Wages and Economy
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001217
STATE FOR AF/S
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
USDOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG
STATE FOR MARINDA HARPOLE
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EAID BTIO EINV ECON PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: EMPLOYERS' VIEW OF WAGES AND ECONOMY
1. (SBU) Summary: On 22 July 2004, EconOff discussed
wage negotiations and economic recovery with Mr. J.
Mufukare of the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe
(EMCOZ). Mufukare also related some interesting
information about price controls and the Zimbabweans'
character. Business is poor with no sign of either a
recovery or mass action for change. End summary.
2. (SBU) Mufukare stated that only 3 of the 45 wage
negotiation councils have reached quarterly wage
agreements. The rest are negotiating or deadlocked
awaiting arbitration. The new resultant wages range
Z$450,000-Z$680,000/month (US$84.91-US$128.30). The
negotiations are difficult but amicable as labor
recognizes business's low costs needs and business
recognizes labor's higher wages needs.
3. (SBU) With most sectors performing very poorly,
Mufukare saw no signs of an economic recovery. Mining is
able to break even because of stable global gold, nickel,
and platinum prices. But, rising labor costs and
difficulty in securing foreign exchange are tightening
their belts as well. Labor costs and lack of market
elasticity has also hurt security guard firms. Business
generally applauds Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono but
insist that fiscal policy must fall in line too. The
controlled exchange rate (especially the Z$824/US$1
figure for exporters) and lack of foreign exchange access
are strangling business. Many businesses purchase high-
priced items just to preserve their money's value.
4. (SBU) Business worries that President Mugabe's renewed
emphasis on "economic empowerment" may signal coming
indigenization of manufacturing companies, possibly with
commerce not too far behind. Despite prior pronouncement
without action, business fears GOZ will act this time.
5. (SBU) Mufukare also informed EconOff that GOZ gazetted
the price of a 10 kg bag of maize at Z$12,000 (US$2.26),
below the Z$20,000 (US$3.77) market price. This marks the
return of price controls, although businesses are
ignoring it and GOZ is not enforcing it. GOZ may use the
regulation to selectively prosecute and takeover
businesses that violate the new regulation. As with any
below market price control scheme, scarcity and
skyrocketing black market prices will result.
6. (SBU) Mufukare discussed the reasons for Zimbabweans'
complacency. He described Zimbabweans as gambler-esque: I
lost the last hand, but I might have better luck next
time. This reasoning allows Zanu-PF to repeatedly offer
land or businesses to the masses and then only give it to
the privileged few. Zimbabweans also owe their first
allegiance to themselves and their families. Zanu-PF is
ruthlessly exploiting these characteristics with a game
of divide and conquer: give a few people something and
they will protect it against all others even to their own
eventual ruin and those who do not have anything will
support you in the hopes that they will one day be lucky.
7. (SBU) COMMENT: Labor and employers agree: GOZ is the
problem. Despite difficult wage negotiations, both labor
and business stress their amicable nature. This reflects
the need for political reform prior to sustainable
economic recovery. With new price controls, people may
yet again experience food shortages and exorbitant
prices. GOZ cannot countenance the idea of allowing
market forces to work- the desire for complete control is
just too strong.
8. (SBU) COMMENT (CONT'D): It is surprising to hear a
Zimbabwean describe his own people as selfish and gambler-
esque. This could explain the lack of public outcry over
the drastic economic decline. It also suggests that the
vast majority will not say enough is enough until they
literally have nothing, including hope.