By Tafara Shumba
As workers commemorate the esteemed May Day, it is much ado about nothing for the Zimbabwean workforce whose interests have been relegated to the terraces by a union that is now embroiled in full-time politics.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) represents workers who have divergent political beliefs. As such, the Union is ideally supposed to be apolitical. However, ZCTU leadership has unilaterally decided to formally align itself with the MDC.
It has become an official extension of the MDC, and this has put the worker who is a non-MDC fan, in an awkward situation.
There is now a very thin line between ZCTU and the MDC. The ZCTU leadership has been used to organise riotous demonstrations that had nothing to do with the welfare of the workers.
The Union’s President, Peter Mutasa, was arrested for organising the January 14-15 demonstrations whose objective was to overthrow a constitutionally elected government. They demonstrated against a government that has a vision for workers, a vision to create for workers, an upper middle-class income status by 2030.
Not even a single day did they demonstrate against the imperialist businesses that are eroding workers’ salaries through anarchic hikes of prices of goods and services.
The few workers that were spared by the ravaging effects of sanctions are failing to make ends meet. It is unfortunate that ZCTU has aligned itself with a political party that called for the sanctions whose prime victims are the workers.
ZCTU and the MDC have been selling a narrative that sanctions are targeted. The truth is that the workers and the ordinary man in the streets are the most affected.
The unholy alliance between the ZCTU and the MDC is not good for the worker. In a bid to consolidate their alliance, the MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa has actually declared a 20% quota at every level to accommodate candidates from the ZCTU.
The Union will supervise the MDC’s elective congress scheduled for this month. As a symbiotic gesture, the labour union has also invited Chamisa as a guest at this year’s May Day celebrations.
Such an invitation is typical politicisation of trade unionism. If it had been Zanu PF, the MDC would have cried foul. The workers must wake up and smell the coffee. They must be clever enough to locate the source of their misery.
Ever since their time in ZCTU, the MDC leadership has been promising workers heaven on earth. Woe to those workers who will, this time around, allow themselves to be lied to for the umpteenth time.
One of the most read authors in the world, Stephen King once said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.” Indeed shame on the workers who will brave the scorching weather to listen to the masters of empty promises today.
ZCTU has aligned itself with a political party that has since dumped its founding values of advancing the working class agenda. The MDC betrayed the hopes and aspirations of the workers. It is, therefore, too early for the workers to forget the abandonment they endured at the hands of the so-called labour backed party.
The leadership of that union is not lost to this fact. ZCTU Secretary General, Mr Japhet Moyo once berated the MDC for abandoning its labour oriented founding principles.
“While we respect the MDC-T’s independence, they should look back and reflect on our founding values that the party was to advance the working class agenda, but going by what happened in the last five years, one can see they had veered off course,” said Mr Moyo during the launch of the MDC-T’s policy conference in 2013.
Moyo went on to fire a salvo at Tendai Biti, the then Minister of Finance for his reckless utterances to civil servants. It was after Biti challenged the leaders of the civil servants to follow him to the toilet and see for themselves if he could defecate money. Such are the leaders who claim to be the defenders of workers’ rights.
The MDC, which claims to represent the workers and downtrodden, has not been exemplary with its own workers. They say charity begins at home. Party workers have been summarily and unprocedurally dismissed without severance packages.
Even those who were granted arbitral awards by the labour tribunal, have, hitherto not received them. The few workers still in employment have gone close to a year without salaries. Chamisa recently told the party’s provincial assemblies to foot the salary bills for workers at their respective provinces.
The MDC leader himself was very instrumental in the mass dismissal of workers following a Supreme Court judgment in July 2015. Chamisa was an instructing advocate in the case.
Over 30 000 workers lost their jobs and livelihoods. The same Chamisa, who today is the leader of the MDC party that emerged out of the trade union movement, a supposed pro-worker-party, proudly took the despicable glory for this victory of injustice.
He is the same Chamisa who will stand before the workers today. He is not the right person to address the workers. He is a square peg in a round hole. How can a prostitute preach the virtue of virginity?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation