ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Peter Mutasa has called for weekly protests from every citizen in a bid to force the government to address the plight faced by citizens which include the poor working conditions faced by the workers.
He was speaking today during an exclusive interview with ZimDaily titled ‘unpacking the state of the workers’.
Mutasa said every Monday, every citizen will be expected to gather in different areas and peacefully protests demanding better conditions for everyone.
Adding that the day was set aside so that people are conscientised and mobilised for the upcoming general strike that is expected to be announced in the next days.
As ZCTU they are organising this weekly protest because they had three main demands.
They are demanding that everyone be paid in United States Dollars, an end to poverty which he described as man made due to corruption and poor governance among other issues.
Finally he said they are demanding an inclusive Covid-19 Response that will makesure the vulnerable are assisted by the government, jobs are protected and small and medium enterprises are catered for.
He further encouraged that every citizen including workers, students and the unemployed all join together to continue with this action until the demands are met.
The worker’s leader said this was not a declaration of war but a legitimate action to take given the situation.
“We are not declaring war with anyone. If ever we are declaring war, we are declaring war on poverty, we are declaring war on inequality, on corruption, poor governance and lack of democracy,” said Mutasa
“In short, workers are in trouble, workers are in modern day slavery”
Mutasa said the country was facing a huge crisis as many are unemployed while those who are employed are job insecure and that there is need to implement policies that protect the informal sector.
He said the government should not only look at formalisation of the informal sector from a taxation point of view but also find ways to develop and ensure they are supported to enable their growth.
Quizzed on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic to the already compressed worker, the ZCTU president said there was a need to look at it from a different context to other countries because the country was already facing serious challenges.
“We already had serious challenges, our doctors were consistently going on strike, teachers were threatening strike, over 7 million people facing starvation. Already high inflation rate and now it’s even over 700%, second only to Venezuela. That showed a country that was already in crisis.”
Politically, he said Zimbabwe was now a failed state facing gross human rights violations with trade unionists, civil society groups and opposition members victimised.
He highlighted a number of issues that point to the failure of the state such as hospitals closed in the middle of a pandemic, failure to provide public services such as water and sanitation.
“If the government is saying there is no crisis, as workers we are very clear that there is a crisis and it is epitomized by the wage crisis that is why doctors and nurses are not motivated and not working .
“We have a wage crisis that is why even teachers are not at work.”
He further alluded that there was a crisis in the country and pointed to the evidence that domestic workers are earning a salary equivalent to 9 loaves of bread while the minimum wage is ZWL$2, 500 according to government policy which is equivalent to US$25.
He said he expected a government that would treat the wage situation as a crisis and in need of immediate intervention but instead the government is taking up the incapacitation calls by workers as a declaration of war.