So there is a storm brewing on social media over how much domestic maids and by extension gardeners should earn per month. Our casual research suggests that the average Zimbabwean maid is below the age of 25 and earns an average salary of US$60 excluding benefits such as food and board. Any irate social media user who came across a WhatsApp post where a prospective employer was offering to pay this much has however dismissed such a salary as too low. His exact words were that this was modern-day slavery.

The post that sparked outrage

What does the law say in Zimbabwe?

The Zimbabwean government has not been as quick to update minimum wages. It appears the last time they updated the minimum wages for domestic servants was back in May 2022 when they passed Statutory Instrument 102 of 2022 102 Labour (Domestic Workers) Employment (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 (No. 21). According to this law maids are supposed to earn an hourly wage of at least $53.03 ZWL per hour, $433.30 ZWL per day, $2 625.00 ZWL per week or $10 500 ZWL. Those amounts appear pitiful months later thanks to inflation rates of over 200% and unofficial and official depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar.

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Back then these amounts would have been equal to:

  • US$0.21 per hour or
  • US$1.68 per day or
  • US$10.15 per week or
  • US$40.61 per week

The law was gazetted on 20 May 2022 and so we used the auction exchange rates on this given day. Technically the willing buyer willing seller rate was the official rate but we assumed the law was crafted before this was the case. Tentative evidence suggests the crafters of the SI were going for a wage of US$50 per month but inflation quickly changed that.

So based on this, the minimum wage for domestic servants is around US$40 per month which sadly means that even that paltry amount of US$60 is well above this. The last time the total consumption line was published back in July, it was $26 623 ZWL per person. Shops were using a rate of around $800 ZWL per 1 USD then so which translates to US$29.52 so a salary of US$60 is just enough to cover the salary of two people.

The latest employment data from ZIMSTAT shows that the bulk of Zimbabweans are earning about $20 000 ZWL or less. Currently, $20 000 ZWL is currently about US$25 per month. So a person getting a salary of US$60 is earning less than U$60 is earning more than twice the average income of most people in Zimbabwe. It’s a condemnation of the dire straits our economy is in sadly. It is not an indictment of whoever this person who posted the ad for a maid is. They are actually paying a salary well above what the law requires, well above what the average person in Zimbabwe is earning. Especially if you factor in benefits like food and board.