ZANU PF government deliberately destroying economy to emasculate workers?

Leornard Karikoga Zhakata once sang this about workers, ''Kuchema kwavo munamato mukuru kumatenga' - meaning that the workers' crying over there mistreatment and oppression is a prayer to God - and indeed, their prayers are heard and our God answers prayers.

miners_workingAs far as I am concerned, all those workers who are crying also encompass all retrenchees and retirees who have not been awarded their well-deserved benefits.

It would appear to me as though, ever since workers became part of the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999 – through their labour movement, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – they have been deliberately maligned by the ZANU PF government – viewed and treated as enemies.

Nothing else can explain how this government seems bent on making the lives of hardworking honest men and women of this country a living hell, reducing them to mere beggars in their own motherland.

Ever since the year 2000, millions of people have either been rendered unemployed, or the economy has been so wantonly destroyed such that there is hardly any employment – which has led to the migration of huge human capital, which this country so desperately needs, to the diaspora.

With the manner in which the ZANU PF government would go to any lengths to hold on to power – including gross human rights abuses – it would not surprise me at all that the economy of Zimbabwe was deliberately destroyed so as to weaken workers’ power.

It should be noted that during the 1990s the most formidable force against the ZANU PF government’s abuse of power were the workers.

Whenever the ZCTU called for mass action – be it in the form of stay-aways, strikes, or protests – the whole country responded and came to a standstill.

Mass action called upon by the ZCTU was responsible for so much effective resistance to the government’s attempts at forcing its will into the people of Zimbabwe.

This clearly was not to be taken lightly by the ZANU PF government, which knew how effective workers’ power could be, as this country’s history had heroes, such as Benjamin Burombo and Joshua Nkomo, whose nationalism came from labour movement activism.

I am more than convinced that either by design or by sheer government incompetence, the demise of any meaningful labour movement activism in Zimbabwe was a welcome relief for ZANU PF.

It would be folly and downright foolhardy, therefore, for anyone to seriously expect the ZANU PF government to resuscitate the economy, as that would resurrect a strong labour movement which would again give it nightmares.

That is why people like Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa would talk about a ‘new economy’ for Zimbabwe – an economy whereby university graduates’ only chance of making some semblance of a livelihood is by selling mobile phone airtime vouchers on the streets.

To the ZANU PF government, this is prudent politics, as it would be virtually impossible for people in this ‘new economy’ to effectively organise themselves into any meaningful labour movement.

Similar to how the government was prepared to destroy a whole vibrant agricultural sector, and thereby, leading to a nation of starving people – just to settle scores with the White community, who were also accused of being part of the formation of the MDC – ZANU PF is more than prepared to destroy the entire Zimbabwean economy for political power expedience.

Presently, the ZANU PF government is busy enacting laws that emasculate the remaining 10% or so of workers, so as to render them easily disposable by their employers without the need for them being awarded any terminal benefits.

Those who work or have worked for state-owned enterprises – such as the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel), Grain Marketing Board (GMB), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) – are all too familiar with the heartless nature of the ZANU PF government.

Having dedicated themselves to these companies, the government saw it fit not only not to pay them their salaries, but also to summarily dismiss them without any cent – in spite of the fact that some of them had given 50 years of their lives to these companies (my own mother having worked for Ziscosteel as a State Certified Nurse (SCN) since 1964 till 2010, but received nothing from the company).

Such is the cruelty of the ZANU PF government.

Is it then any wonder that so many people who lived through the Ian Smith Rhodesia era look back with fond memories?

They talk about ‘the good old days’, and ‘never appreciating what one has until it is gone’.

In those days, at least there was employment available, and workers were paid their dues on time everytime, as well as being awarded generous bonuses and other incentives in appreciation of their contribution, and when they retired, they were awarded real ‘mudyandigere’ – a pension that one could use to literally ‘see the world’.

Despite the fact that the majority of these workers were the oppressed Black people who were now crossing the borders to wage an armed liberation struggle against White minority rule, the Smith government never felt as so insecure as the Mugabe government, such that it never sought to emasculate them.

This further highlights the level of insecurity that the ZANU PF government has – they do not have any sense of confidence in themselves.

Nevertheless, it is up to all of us as Zimbabweans to put a stop to this rabid government and restore the dignity not only of our nation, but also of the workers by reviving the economy so as to create employment.

The power is firmly in our hands, and therefore, let us make sure that we all stand together to push for electoral reforms that will guarantee genuinely free and fair elections in 2018 and beyond, so that we may finally rid ourselves of this ZANU PF curse.

Let us come together from all corners of Zimbabwe, and all corners of the world, so as to hammer in the final nail on the ZANU PF coffin in 2018 – and finally bring dignity to the worker and every other citizen of this great nation of Zimbabwe.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]com

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