President Emmerson Mnangagwa has failed the workers, whose remuneration and conditions of service have been deteriorating since he came into office in November 2017, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Peter Mutasa, has said.
When Mnangagwa took over from his predecessor, the late former president Robert Mugabe in a military coup more than three years ago, he promised a number of reforms which have not been implemented.
In an open letter to Mnangagwa this week, Mutasa expressed disappointment over the way the president has run down the country calling for a need to revert to constitutional democracy as provided for in the supreme law.
“When you came back from exile and took over leadership of this great country, you promised that you will be approachable, a listening President, as soft as wool, and tolerant to divergent views,” said Mutasa.
“You promised us, democracy, freedom, prosperity, respect of our dignity and fairness. You said you were ushering us into a new dispensation different from the Mugabe dispensation which you were also ironically part of. Your new dispensation was supposed to be based on constitutionalism, rule of law, national cohesion, democracy, and zero tolerance to corruption just to mention just a few of the many things you promised to do differently.”
He said it was regrettably that Mnangagwa’s administration had done everything to “destroy our hope.”
The ZCTU leader said under the Mnangagwa administration Zimbabweans had experienced scary authoritarianism never imagined post Mugabe regime, which includes shooting of defenceless citizens in the streets, unlawful arrests and pre-trial detentions of citizens, abductions, torture, intimidation and many other forms of abuses.
“In short Mr President, workers feel betrayed and majority are not happy, never mind what those close to you say,” explained Mutasa.
“Many workers are now living in conditions that are either parallel to or worse than the colonial conditions. Domestic workers are earning ZWL$ 900 per month according to what your government gazetted. This is only equivalent to USD9 or nine loaves of bread. Many workers earn a minimum salary of ZWL$ 2, 549 again as gazetted by your government. This is only USD25 or twenty five loaves of bread for the whole month. You fought for freedom and justice during colonial rule and we are forever grateful.”
He further queried: “Tell us if this is fair and if this is what you and many freedom fighters fought for. Why is it that working conditions under your leadership are now said to be comparable to those under colonial or apartheid rule? Are you happy about how all professionals including medical doctors, nurses, teachers, agronomists, engineers etc. have been reduced to paupers?
He said workers had since lost all freedoms as workers as they can no longer protest.
“We cannot strike anymore,” he said.
Mutasa, who described Zimbabwe as a failed state said they were engaging Mnangagwa openly because in many ways his government has closed all avenues of proper and effective participation of labour and other civic society movements in governance.
“We also address you openly because this is a matter of public interest,” emphasized Mutasa.“Many would like to tell you what we are telling you but are gripped in fear.”