No workers to celebrate May Day in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) organised a number of events
around the country in commemoration of May Day on Thursday, but there was
nothing to celebrate.

The main event was in Harare at Dzivarasekwa stadium,

where some entertainment was planned to try and lift spirits that have been

crushed by the harsh economic climate.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchmewa visited several high and low-density

suburbs, speaking to people about this year’s celebrations. Many said they

were feeling depressed because the only work available is in the informal

sector, selling oranges or tomatoes.

Unemployment is over 80% , inflation is about 500,000%. Companies are

shutting down and there is hardly any food.. Those who have jobs are working

for poor salaries that cannot keep up with the hyperinflation. As a result

many skilled workers have left the country seeking better opportunities.

The shortage of foreign currency has led to a shortage of fuel. Most

workers cannot afford the cost of transportation to go to work. They are

walking long distances in the mornings and evenings and are usually too

tired to do much else in their free time.

A rival government-sponsored organisation, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade

Unions (ZFTU), held their celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium. Muchemwa said

ZFTU members are mostly civil servants who are afraid of losing their jobs.

They are also forced to attend political functions organised by the ruling

party, under the guise of being ‘war veterans’. Muchemwa was quite sure that

there was not much celebrating at Gwanzura Stadium either.

The Youth Forum in Zimbabwe issued a Workers Day message that said: “There

is a great need to resuscitate the dampened spirits of people following the

illegitimate regime’s deliberate frustration of the majority of Zimbabweans

after they unequivocally expressed their will on the 29th of March. We take

this as both a de facto and de jure coup against the wish of Zimbabweans and

therefore issues such as inflation, poor wages, unaffordability and

unavailability of basic commodities, poverty, unemployment, poor health and

education delivery systems, deterioration of infrastructure and other

economic, social-political grievances have automatically become secondary,

the primary issue being to pave way for the legitimate president Morgan

Tsvangirai to start putting the house in order as mandated to him by the

Zimbabweans on the 29th March harmonized elections.”

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