April 17, 2020

Employers on effects of lockdown extension

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

A number of countries in the southern African region which had imposed lockdowns in a bid to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, recently extended the lockdowns by an average of two weeks.

Today marks the 19th day since Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the country would go on a 21-day lockdown.

With mass testing set to start in all the country’s 10 provinces in a few days’ time, the question many have is will the President extend the deadline which is set to end on Sunday April 19 to allow the process to flow without any hiccups? 

However, in the midst of the speculation which has gripped the nation concerning the matter, there is a voice that is saying an extension of the total lockdown might have devastating effects.

“The effect on employers is that they may lack capacity to pay their labour given that they are not generating any cash flows,” said Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) president, Dr Israel Murefu. 

“Maybe for April employers may squeeze paying wages and salaries but if the lockdown is extended on the same conditions as now many businesses will not be able to pay unless they get a rescue package from somewhere.”

He added that the current reality which most businesses are faced with of not having a huge capital base, makes paying employees difficult.

“Salaries are paid from income generated in the relevant pay period and where income is not there a business will not have capacity unless it has a huge capital base to fall back on.

“So businesses are in a very difficult position now and in the event that the lockdown is extended without relaxations to allow especially non-essential service businesses some space to operate.”

It is anticipated that the nation will know whether or not there will be an extension tomorrow, Independence Day, when the President is expected to address the nation.

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