Teachers and bank workers responses to Zimbabwe's crisis: Uneven effects, different strategies

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20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While other studies have examined worker experiences in the informal sector during the crisis, this study is the first to focus on the formal sector, comparing the experiences of teachers and banking sector workers. The study shows that the Zimbabwean crisis (2000-2008) had uneven effects which elicited differential responses from workers. During the peak of the crisis in 2008, the teaching sector almost collapsed as most of the primary and secondary school teachers responded to hyper-inflation that had eroded their incomes by joining the diaspora or Zimbabwe's burgeoning speculative informal economy. The establishment of the Government of National Unity (GNU) saw the dollarisation of the Zimbabwean economy and the shelving of the Zimbabwean dollar in April 2009. These changes saw the teaching sector showing signs of revival, as some of the teachers who had left the profession re-joined the sector. This was largely because the dollarisation of the Zimbabwean economy killed off the speculative activities that were sustaining a large proportion of the teachers in the informal economy during the crisis. In stark contrast, the banking sector thrived during the peak of the crisis, as most banks became key players in highly speculative activities such as Zimbabwe's bullish stock exchange and real estate. The profits realised in the banking sector trickled down to its workers who became the best remunerated amongst all the sectors in Zimbabwe. In a twist of irony, the banking sector was adversely affected by the dollarisation of the economy, as the speculative activities that were reaping huge rewards for the banks were wiped out overnight by the adoption of currencies more stable than the precarious Zimbabwean dollar. This spelt disaster for the banking fraternity. Most banks in the first few months of dollarisation struggled to pay their workers in hard currency; many were forced to downsize their operations and lay-off some employees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-97
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Contemporary African Studies
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

Keywords

  • disintegration
  • dollarisation
  • hyper-inflation
  • informal economy
  • revival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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