Unemployment 11% says CSO

BY GIFT PHIRI
HARARE - The Central Statistical Office (CSO) last week made startling claims that the rate of unemployment in Zimbabwe is 11 percent - and not 80 percent, despite growing joblessness and a steadily rising cost of living which has worsened the vulnerability of the urban poor in Zimb

abwe. CSO acting director-general Moffat Nyoni told a workshop called to inform legislators on the transformation of the CSO that the 80 percent figure was false.
“It is 11 percent, that is what we found,” he said. “We do not know where the 80 percent comes from.”
Economic analysts and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have dismissed government claims that the country’s unemployment rate now stands at 11 percent.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has reported that the cost of the monthly food basket for an average family of six rose from Z$75,000 in July to Z$95,000 in August – a 24 percent escalation.
The rising cost of basic items comes at a time when humanitarian organisations warn of widespread food shortages in the country with the United Nations appealing for US$257 million to avert a looming disaster. In its latest situation analysis for Zimbabwe, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) noted that the majority of rural households had run out of the food they had harvested in the 2005 season.
FEWSNET said the situation was equally bad in urban areas, where most scarce foodstuffs were being sold at high informal market prices beyond the reach of many families. The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) predicted in April that 3.3 million people would be food insecure by the end of this year.
In terms of unemployment, ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo, who was arrested last week after calling strikes for more pay, disputed Nyoni’s claim.
“Our assessment of sector performances over the past six years shows that, contrary to what the government says, the agricultural sector has dropped from employing the highest number of people to being one where there are no opportunities at all,” he said.
“The disruption of agriculture through the land reform programme threw many people out of employment. The present situation in the sector is that it is no longer employing because there is nothing happening on the farms – most are under-utilised, if not derelict altogether,” added Matombo.
“Our conservative estimate is that about 2.7 million out of the country’s employable population of about 3.5 million are out of work right now,” said economic analyst Erich Bloch.

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