Law of the land

11 09 2007

You know that things are getting desperate when laws are introduced to prevent you from paying your staff too much! The most recent,Statutory Instrument 159A of 2007.Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Amendment of National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act and Education Act) Regulations, 2007, attempts to keep inflation in check by making it illegal to increase wages, prices and school fees (amongst other things) above changes in the Consumer Price Index, the Z$ rate on the parallel (black) market VAT or Customs Excise charges. Bear in mind that inflation is officially around 7500% (in actuality it is much higher) and the CPI is notoriously undervalued and late. The penalties are harsh; up to 6 months in jail or not more than a 3 million Z$ fine or both. As I pay my staff more than five times the stipulated minimum I’m not at all sure where I stand. There appears to be a loophole for increasing wages in the form of bonuses but if I cannot offset that against increased prices what do I do? My labour is off course not interested in my problems and if they don’t get what they want will simply not come to work. This is a curious phenomenon; no pay is somehow better than some pay and most are within easy walking distance of work so they cannot use transport costs as an excuse. Maybe they are relying on the WFP (World Food Programme) to bail them out so that they can do nothing. It is not a new concept and agricultural labour is difficult to find in a country where 80% are unemployed!

So today I have to address the issue of transport. The labour are demanding to be picked up or they will not come to work.  The  issue is that they do get a transport allowance (though there is no public transport along that particular route) but it is so little that they would rather be picked up instead. Other farms in the area do collect labour but I do not have a driver on hand and am not prepared to hang around just to take them home and be on call every working day of the year just to do so. It is going to be a stressful day and my life has enough of that for the moment!

Another interesting phenomenon is the absence of senior management on Fridays. Try getting hold of anyone significant on a Friday! It has become standard practice under the current draconian administration to lock up apparently errant managers on a Friday to languish in jail until Monday when the case can go before a magistrate. As one can never predict when somebody is going to finger you for some real or imagined transgression it is better to run you company by remote control on a Friday. A weekend in a Zimbabwe jail could hardly be called relaxation.

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11 09 2007
Big Blister

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