April 17, 2018: Trade union message to mark Independence Day
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) joins the rest of the country in celebrating Independence Day. We take cognisance of the significance of this day to all Zimbabweans and the role played by freedom fighters and the masses to liberate the country from the evil minority rule.
As the nation celebrates this very important day, we also note with sadness that the majority of the citizens have only tasted political independence but are still under the shackles of socio-economic oppression.
Millions of Zimbabweans are yet to enjoy the fruits of independence, 38 years after extricating ourselves from the Rhodesian grip. Independence remains a harsh reality for most Zimbabweans who are still living in abject poverty. Only a handful of individuals and their families can safely claim to be independent. Lavish lifestyles from ill-gotten wealth and corruption have become the hallmark of a few individuals who have captured the state and have virtually replaced the Rhodesians.
The ZCTU believes that independence was and is still for all Zimbabweans and it is high time that it becomes a reality to the majority. We call upon the authorities to create an environment where citizens feel and appreciate the freedom by retracing our paths to the founding values of the liberation struggle and make them the foundation of our society.
We envisage a Zimbabwe free of violence, corruption, thuggery, fear, deprivation, segregation, inequalities and repression.
Our laws and working environment have gradually deteriorated since the day we attained independence. Workers in the formal and informal setups cannot testify to the much hyped independence. Formal workers suffer from repressive and capitalistic laws that deter them from fully exercising their rights. The recent spate of strikes and demonstrations from workers in various sectors, clamouring for better working conditions is testimony that that freedom and independence are fast diminishing at workplaces. The firing and suspension of workers exercising their right to demonstrate is also a mockery to our independence and freedom.
Harassment of workers in the informal economy by the police and local authorities remains the order of the day after 38 years of independence. The government is slow to react to the situation and accept reality that we have more people surviving from informal economy activities and as such, it should shape the legislation to accommodate such activities. It is high time we see better recognition of workers’ contribution to the economy of Zimbabwe by betterment of their conditions of work and livelihoods.
As we celebrate our freedom, at the dawn of a watershed election, ZCTU calls upon the authorities not to pay lip service to peaceful and nonviolent elections.
The Government must put in place practical modalities that ensure a free and fair election. Political parties on the other hand must not preach peace by day and unleash monsters during the night. Government institutions also need to be non-partisan and not apply the law selectively.
There are a number of cases where political party thugs are left scot-free because they belong to the ‘right’ party and in some cases it is the victims that are prosecuted.
Once again, the ZCTU takes this opportunity to urge the government to come out clean on allegations of the involvement of the military in the forthcoming elections.
The ‘new dispensation’ must not be a rally talk or rhetoric, instead it should be felt by all citizens that we are indeed in a new dispensation. We are still to see the ‘restored legacy’. What we are actually witnessing is a switch of roles from the old ruler to the new office holders without much to separate them.
If the repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) are still within our statutes, civil liberties for most Zimbabweans will remain under lock and key.
The levers (Laws and institutions) that perpetuated the Mugabe regime need to be reformed for us to realise full freedoms and liberties. The current scenario is a perpetuation of the old system by players who had been benched but now on the pitch.
We salute the crop of freedom fighters, organisations and individuals that have been ‘lone’ voices in calling for a ‘truly independent’ Zimbabwe.
We also salute the resolute crop of freedom fighters who sacrificed their blood and souls to liberate Zimbabwe and call upon those in power to reflect back to the Jewel of Africa of 1980 and evaluate what it could be today.
Happy Independence Day Zimbabwe
Japhet Moyo SECRETARY-GENERAL (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Harare)