THE World Council of Churches (WCC) on Friday said they were worried that Zimbabwe’s average individual income had become the lowest in Africa and has, as such, challenged the government to improve the economy so that Zimbabweans would stop migrating to other countries in search of employment.
This was said by Reverend Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC secretary general, who is leading a high powered delegation which is in the country on a fact finding mission at the invitation of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.
Rev Tveit told reporters in Harare that during their meeting (Friday) with Vice President Emerson Mnangangwa they raised the issue of the deteriorating economy after they heard Zimbabweans’ income was “now the lowest in Africa”.
“We also raised that as a matter of concern with the Vice President to hear the way forward to improve the economy of Zimbabwe and in particular to improve the living conditions of the poor people, and this is a concern we have as the World Council of Churches ,” said Rev Tveit.
“We hear from statistics that the average income of a citizen in Zimbabwe is now at the lowest in Africa and it is an indication that the economy is not working as we hope it to be and the ordinary people are suffering from the daily challenges to get bread,” he added.
The WCC boss also said that had witnessed thousands of Zimbabweans in South Africa who are living there as refugees.
“This is an issue which I saw when I visited South Africa; I saw how many refugees in South Africa are from Zimbabwe who are seeking work and something to help themselves and their families.
“We really hope that if the government cannot fix the economy, churches and the civic society, together with the government and other big companies, can work together and improve the economy, and this is also an issue of moral value; it is not only a matter of the economy in a typical sense,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s economy continues to deteriorate with statistics from the country’s largest labour representative body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, showing the unemployment rate now exceeds 90%.
The situation has also gone bad to the extent that workers are sleeping in bank queues to access their meagre salaries as a result of a serious cash shortage that has hit the country for almost two years now.
The central statistical office this week said inflation had doubled of late due to the introduction of bond notes.
Also, the EU representative in the country, Van Damme, urged the government to fix the economy so that unemployed youths don’t cross into South African illegally.