61% of employed Zimbabweans earning less than $12.66 a month

Leonard Sengere Avatar

Whenever we have to talk about the pricing of essential and perceived essential services in Zimbabwe, the conversations get heated. This is simply because Zimbabweans are earning too little. Meaning whatever price hike, however justified, however tiny, will take a service beyond the reach of many.

See, if I busted my knee and needed a knee replacement that would cost about $10,000. Say the surgeon felt pity on me and said I could pay just $1,000. That would still be too expensive for me and most Zimbabweans.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), 61% of paid employees earned less than ZW$100,000 per month in Q2 2023. The official exchange rate at the end of that quarter was around 1:5740 whilst the black market rate stood at around 1:7900.

That means 61% of employed Zimbabweans earned less than US$17.50 a month using the official rate at the time. Or US$12.66 a month using the black market rate.

Now, if you have never been in that kind of position, you tend to question those figures. However, as someone who once earned about $10 a month for months waiting for salary schedules to be updated to reflect the loss of value of a Zimbabwean currency, I know this is real.

Zimstat surveyed over 12,000 households and you can go dig deeper into their methodology if you’re so inclined. It’s all in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey Report for Q2 2023.

Back to the survey findings. 61% of Zimbabweans are pulling in less than $17.50 a month. They have to pay rentals, buy food, pay school fees and everything else a family needs with that US17.50.

The math doesn’t math and yet people still survive. The side hustle has become a necessity, even for those not entreprenurially gifted.

The survey also shows that most of those earning more than that are still earning peanuts. In fact, 93.6% of employed Zimbabweans were pulling in less than ZW$550,000 per month in Q2 2023. That was at most US$95.82 or US$69.62 using the black market rate.

Make it make sense. How is this country still open? I’ll take you back to the knee replacement example above. How many people would be able to foot that $1,000 bill out of pocket? Only those with booming side hustles would be able to afford it.

Here is the full table:

All those Hilux-driving fatcats are in the 6.4%. However, I would argue that most in the group earning more than $96 do not earn that much more than that. I would argue that less than 1% earn more than US$1,000 a month.

This is ridiculous. Anyway, here is how much people are earning in different sectors. You might want to think about gaining skills required in the higher-paying sectors.

Also read:

Breaking down the poverty info released by ZIMSTAT, Zim situation dire

Zimbabwe’s latest poverty datum line raises argument of who can actually afford our expensive internet

Africa, Zim not poor because of colonisation, other former British colonies succeeding


  1. Anonymous

    This article is depressing. I blame the ruling party for this situation. Corruption and bad economic policies have made people poorer. All this talk about a middle class economy by 2030 is a fantasy. This Government clearly doesn’t have the solutions to our country’s problems! You have to strong to survive in this hell called Zimbabwe.

  2. ChristIsLord

    Makes sense since blacks are 100% Homo sapiens, but larger populations in 1st and 2nd world countries are white.
    Whites are about 3% Neanderthal 97% H. Sapiens.

    Obviously Homo sapiens were smarter (Neanderthals are now extinct).
    Blacks should use their brains and be more resourceful, find better technologies that cost and use less resources.

    1. MrStabby

      Jahman siyai guka

    2. Anonymous

      Aaah! Mukuru mukuti chii apa..

  3. Michael Souris

    Adult Zimbabwean citizens know damn well why their country is in such a mess! It’s squarely due to zpf’s disastrous, corrupt and even murderous rule! Citizens are as much to blame though. They’ve either been stupid enough to vote zpf over the decades, not vote at all, and won’t do anything to rid of them, as proven at the ballot box! Yes, there’s much bleating about the vote is rigged, but again, citizens have done nothing to even minimise it! They’ve also failed to keep a credible alternative ticking, and don’t seem even vaguely interested in trying.

    With all of the above prove beyond doubt, the one thing they must do now, is stop snivelling about their self-inflicted harm! If they refuse to create, maintain and support a credible alternative, and fail to vote against zpf, that’s their problem! I’d suggest they make a plan here, instead of whingeing! I did, but mine involved getting the hell out of Zimbabwe, a country where citizens do nothing but whinge about their self-inflicted problems, namely zpf and more recently, that greedy stupid, Chamisa who, went all-out to at least keep its sodding perch in parliament, with a side-bet on the presidency, combined with the fact that neither he or other opposition, did a damn thing, to minimise, let alone stop, vote fraud!

    1. Always Off Topic

      I totally agree, it’s amazing people are obsessed with SADC , this and that, when are they going to realize that no one is coming to save them , they have to take the bull on by the horns themselves. It’s easy to blame zanu , but Zim is what it is because we have been sleeping. The GNU was a gift which we squandered. We probably will not get such an opportunity for long time to come.

      Vision 2030 represents the oldest trick in the book of politics. By the time 2030 arrives we will be occupied by some crisis we will have forgotten about all the promises.

  4. Kuhumana

    Is that for real u mean to say more than half employees are getting 12 nozhi and still paying us dollar rentals,feeding their families ,sending kids to school transport to work still they are going to work meaning everyone is corrupt in zimbabwe then if at all this article is true.

  5. Anonymous

    With this salary you hear POTRAZ and Zetdc says Zim has cheapest data and electricity in the region, πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ the best way is to leave this country

    1. Anonymous

      Not gonna lie, i was offered a chance to go flip burgers or do dishes in the states and I think I’ll take it. Zimbabwe is just allergic to meπŸ˜…

      1. Gru

        Bayai Cde…zvemuZim injuga

  6. S a n e l i s i w e

    We are suffering because of zanu-pf

    1. Verbatim bulletin

      My mom before she passed on once told me, that we have Voted opposition in Cities, we have started another terrible problem that will brood endless suffering,
      I asked her why she’s saying that she gave me numerous illustrations
      She said something like double dealings where we have ministers or elected Mps having an amphibious habitation, getting their families to attend schools abroad just to quell the fear and uncertainty of the unknown to come,
      Home would be at work but after work they’ll fly abroad overseas just to be with family and away from a presumably simmering hostilities
      MostCEO company directors will follow suit, and that sure did happen
      Imagine how much forex reserved went outside Zimbabwe , Then the so companies executives abroad colluded with opposition to impose repressive measures for a regime change, the very people in towns and cities, that voted resoundingly for opposition were made to believe it would be an overnight thing, but Majority is Rural
      So the berth of sanctions hit urbanites the very working class who voted while the ministers source refugee outside to better their living
      She said the memories of wars were hard to eradicate from everyone who participated and war enemies can rise again under the auspices of regime change, Had it not been for Gushas and farm invasions this country would have been aground
      Some of these pushing for regime where whites supremo who were gambling with farms, and Mines
      I saw an article of a farm on a auction last farming in 1977 being bid at a whooping millions of dollars, So that’s when the ministers and or other government officials CEO joined this farm invasions. I thought and think it was ultimately mete to keep the sovereignty as Gushas had it all under controls
      So with this opposition especially lambasting government efforts to improve the economy, is one tightening the noose around our necks
      The opposition much needed is supportive not coexistence with imperial or outside forces

      1. no

        That’s hogwash
        Because the towns are bigger and the rural areas not voting overwhelmingingly for zanu as proven by this last election alone… Even with the immense rigging.
        We don’t owe zanu anything. Sorry it’s our right to vote who we want. And don’t base assumptions on old wives tales

      2. Leonard Sengere

        There is a lot wrong with what you said here Verbatim bulletin. I can’t go into all of it but I’ll just say, the double dealings or amphibious dwelling, sending of kids overseas etc. you talked about has nothing to do with voting for opposition candidates in cities. Even Zanu politicians do the same.

        CEOs colluded with opposition politicians to impose repressive measures to effect regime change??? Where do you come up with this stuff.

        I feel like this is a thinly veiled murakashi post.

      3. 3man

        @verbatim … zanu pf has since time immemorial lost all elections save for the one at independence. The majority of rural folk and keen are force marched and hoodwinked into placing or assisted to put that X on zanus ticket. All our problems started with xanu and they are not going to end with zanu pf again. The rise of MDC did not sprout on land grabbing but zanu feared Tsvangirai hence they (zanu pf) effected the foiled chimurenga on land invasions which ultimately landed us here today.

      4. @verbatim

        Iwewe nyarara hako wagara kufunga kunokunetsa takukuziva now taimbo verenga zvawaitaura asi takazoona kut hazvishande.

  7. Skinny Pete

    Those numbers don’t make sense, someone cant count or wait they are right.

  8. Samaita

    Your figures are unrealistic. For the greater part of 2023, the Zim economy had virtually dollarised. The 100 000 rtgs isn’t the full salary but only a component of the salary: after part of the payment would have been made in USD. Please don’t mislead people. Yes things are VERY hard in Zim but you can still do better guys in your reporting. If a maid is USD 50 – 150, gardeners included, who is getting the $12.66 you are talking about??

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Where you’re wrong is in assuming the USD component was not captured and that a significant portion of paid employees were getting it. You cannot believe they stepped up to civil servants and asked for just the ZW$ component.

      Also, you do know that the vast majority of the employed are informally employed, right? Find out why people are leaving that self employment to become maids and garderners and you’ll realise those people are among the rich.

      The major thing you should consider is that a rural-based person, working in agriculture, tilling the land for sustenance is considered employed and their salaries are included in the above. As you consider this, remind yourself that the majority of people live in rural areas. So, yeah, there are plenty of people earning less than $12.66.

  9. shocked

    Fact min
    Wage is 100usd or equivalent
    Commercial workers 250usd or equivalent
    We need details on how this was done
    Even the above is atrociuos

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Where are you getting your figures? We love to believe it’s that but Zimstat contradicts your figures and yet as a govt agency, they have every incentive to report higher wages.

      As I told Samaita, when we think of salaries, as urbanites we tend to look around us and observe that even the underpaid maids are getting US$50 and so most people should be getting more. We forget that the same maids earning $50 are financially helping to support their families in the rural areas. Imagine what those people are earning then.

    2. Wanguda

      Who wrote this article? Where did they get their data from? Things are bad but izvo ndo nhema manje!

      1. Leonard Sengere

        Hamuna kuverenga ka. It says the data comes from Zimstat Labour Force Survey Q2 2023. It’s a govt agency reporting the figures that are so ridiculous that you are justified in assuming they must be lies. Unfortunately, they are real.

      2. Gru

        There goes a zanunite1

    3. Tonderai

      That’s incorrect. Minimum wages in those sectors are currently set in ZWL. They are yet to be set in USD.

  10. Fighter

    We used to say come to Umtali and get bombed not it’s come to Mutare and starve. Thats how bad the country is Forgot 2030 it’s just like “Health For All In 2000.” The country is on autopilot but once the fuel runs out it’s going to explode. Zanu pf is busy kidnapping people as though they are responsible for the mess.

  11. Wanguda

    Who wrote this article? Where did they get their data from? Things are bad but izvo ndo nhema manje!

  12. Tonderai

    Please use the average exchange rates for June – the timing of the report data.

    1. Anonymous

      Shame on you for reporting lies, why do you hate yourself n your country so much uribharanzi n you will nev3r find peace because of that mentality

      1. Leonard Sengere

        Which lies nhai Anonymous. The figures above came from Zimstat but I’d be interested to hear about the alternate facts you have that contradict the above.

        Let’s make it a habit of countering data/info/facts we don’t agree with with specifics of why we disagree and the other data we have that contradicts it. Not just going “lies” because you can’t wrap your head around some crazy info.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      It says in the article that we used exchange rates from the Q2 2023 that is reported on.

  13. Anonymous

    Even a maid in Zimbabwe doesn’t earn tht low..that’s crazy stats

    1. Leonard Sengere

      What about the part time farm labourer in the poorest rural area in Zimbabwe. You know, the one being supported by a family member who is a maid in the city. How much is that person earning?

  14. Cookie

    This article is misleading. How can someone raise their children while earning $12 per month? You need to buy food, which is expensive. You need to pay for electricity. The kids need money for school fees.

    The people who earn $12 per month are probably living with someone else who takes care of other essentials.

  15. There is such a thing as responsible reporting

    Absolute hogwash. Considering that the Civil Service is the largest formal employer and no civil servant was earning that, this does not make sense. In fact I am sure no one was earning that as the full total of their pay. I guess it just means that salaries have dollarised and this is just the ZWL component. Which fo the civil servants is insignificant anyway.

    1. Anon

      I think you lack objectivity or you did not read the article, or didn’t understand what you read if you did. Where is the hogwash? The figures are coming from Zimstat. AND the article states that 61% of employed people earn less than that contentious figures. I’d like to believe that civil servants and other formally employed people are in the other bracket – the 39% that is not the subject of this article. What should really be the bone of contention here is who should be considered as employed in Zim. Going by Zimstat’s definition, this article is 100% correct and people arely taking potshots at the messenger.

  16. Masinge

    This is way off the mark. Most employees including domestics, gardeners farm workers and all other lowly paid people earn in USD. I can bet my bottom dollar that all those people earn way more than the figures suggested here..

  17. πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”

    Ndinoona sekunge zimstat yave kunyanya guka fellow Zimbabweans bcoz ma earnings per month ayoka haararamise even svosve chairo one month.