The government has gazetted the Statutory Instrument 37 of 2020 which sets the minimum wages for domestic workers in Zimbabwe. The figures stipulated as the minimums by the government are rather shocking and obscene. According to the Statutory Instrument, the minimum wage for a gardener in Zimbabwe is now ZWL$160 per month. The minimum wage for a cook or housekeeper (informally referred to as a maid) is now ZWL$168.48 per month. A childminder, on the other hand, is to earn a minimum of ZWL$179.00 while a disabled/aged minder is to earn a minimum wage of $189.70 per month.
To put these figures into perspective, they translate to US$6.40 per month for the gardener, US$6.74 per month for the cook/housekeeper/maid, US$7.16 per month for the childminder and US$7.59 per month for the disabled/aged minder when you use the unofficial but widely used black market rates. If you are to use the government’s own interbank foreign currency rates which are not accessible to most people, the figures become to US$9.26 per month for the gardener, US$9.75 per month for the cook/housekeeper/maid, US$10.36 per month for the childminder and US$10.98 per month for the disabled/aged minder.
To illustrate further just how dire the situation is for domestic workers, given these new minimums, last week the country’s examinations body, ZIMSEC hiked examination fees for Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations. Parents will now be required to fork out a minimum of ZWL$190.00 per subject for O Level examinations. Since a child is required to have a minimum of 5 O Level subjects, domestic workers will have to work a minimum of 5 months without spending any cent from their salaries for their children to do the bare minimum number of subjects.
Zimsec also hiked the examination fees for A-Levels to a massive ZWL$351 per subject and since a child is required to do 3 subjects, domestic workers will have to work a minimum of 6 months to raise this amount as well.
Further illustrating how pitiful the new wages are, a 10-kilogram packet of oranges is going for an outrageous price of ZWL$644.49 at OK Zimbabwe Supermarkets. This translates to at least 4 months of the salary of a domestic worker.
The regulations were published by Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mavima.