In the same week that the Zimbabwean government has failed to pay its civil servants before Christmas day, it was announced that China is cancelling the country’s $40 million in debts. 500,000 government employees are to go without pay until December 28 the Public Service Commission stated. Previously the state has remunerated employees before December 25.
The New Zimbabwe reported that currently only security service staff have been paid.
The Zimbabwean government has also failed to pay pensioners on time this year. On December 17 the Financial Gazette wrote that the “cash-strapped” country had not paid pensioners their monthly stipend which was due to them on December 9.
For 15 years the Zimbabwean economy has not only been struggling but has been in a state of collapse and in 2009, due to massive inflation, the country’s currency was abandoned forcing it to turn to the use of other foreign currencies in particular the American dollar. More recently, the yuan was added to the the basket of currencies used in the nation however it had not been officially approved for public use until this week.
On Tuesday Robert Mugabe announced that the country will be making the Chinese yuan legal tender. This decision came after Beijing revealed that China would be cancelling Zimbabwe’s $40 million debts that are set to mature next year.
The minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa, said that the Chinese yuan “will be a function of trade between China and Zimbabwe and acceptability with customers in Zimbabwe.”
The belief is that since the Zimbabwean government has enabled the Chinese yuan to become legal tender it will facilitate further trade between the two states. China is currently Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner.
The inability to pay both pensioners and civil servants on time could be an indication of the deepening financial crisis the country is facing. However, the announcement that the $40 million in debts are to be forgiven by China and the potential increase in trade between the two countries may enable Zimbabwe to create a more positive future for itself.