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Zimbabwe now a failed State

24 Feb 2021 at 05:49hrs | Views
OUR Excellency, President ED Mnangagwa.

Mr President, l address you on behalf of workers of Zimbabwe who are suffering and disillusioned.

I also address you in my own capacity as a citizen desiring a better life for my family.

We engage you openly because in many ways your government has closed all avenues of proper and effective participation of labour and other civic society movements in governance.

Your government has also designated the labour movement, especially the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), a terrorist organisation, thereby closing most avenues for genuine dialogue.

We also address you openly because this is a matter of public interest. Many would like to tell you what we are telling you but are gripped with fear. When you came back from exile and took over leadership of this great country in November 2017, you promised that you would be approachable, a listening President, as soft as wool, and tolerant to divergent views.

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 late former President Robert Mugabe's 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.

It is important to point out that the workers and many citizens participated in the processes that led to your inauguration as the second Executive President of Zimbabwe in November 2017.

Yes, l was there at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, on November 18 2017 and spoke in support of a new Zimbabwe on behalf of the working class. Don't be mistaken, Mr President, the majority of us were not oblivious of your political past. We were prepared to forgive and join you in rebuilding a new nation that is good to all.

We also were not doing it for you or your colleagues in government. No, not at all, we had hope for a new future. A future of peace, freedom, democracy, rule of law, equality before the law, equity, justice, constitutionalism, prosperity and transitional justice.

Unfortunately, despite this hope and goodwill extended to you by citizens and the international community, your government has done everything to destroy our hope. We have experienced scary authoritarianism never imagined post-Mugabe regime.

This includes shooting of defenceless citizens in the streets, the unlawful arrests and pre-trial detentions of citizens, abductions, torture, intimidation and many other forms of abuses. There has also been a spike in corruption cases in many sectors of our economy that has no parallels since independence in terms of scale and impunity.

In short Mr President, workers feel betrayed and the majority are not happy, never mind what those close to you say. Many workers are now living in conditions that are either parallel to or worse than the colonial conditions.

Domestic workers are earning $900 per month according to what your government gazetted. This is only equivalent to US$9 or nine loaves of bread. Many workers earn a minimum salary of $2 549 again as gazetted by your government. This is only US$25 or 25 loaves of bread for the whole month.

You fought for freedom and justice during the colonial rule and we are forever grateful.

Mr President, 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?

We have lost all freedoms as workers. We cannot strike anymore. The right to peacefully demonstrate and petition those in power is now a mirage. Just like in colonial Rhodesia, workers are unlawfully arrested and detained for exercising these rights that many died for.

Our question is why has your government allowed this betrayal of the liberation struggle ethos and values?

Mr President, many have explained the situation in our country in many ways and you probably get intelligence reports about this too.

Here is my view which is also shared by many workers. It is not working. Zimbabwe is now a failed State. The State failure is shown in a number of ways

A State failing to provide and guarantee security of persons

Many people including trade union activists now live in fear. What the late national hero Edson M Zvobgo didn't expect is unfortunately happening. He said this about the State the revolutionaries intended to build: "We do not want to create a socio-legal order in the country in which people are petrified, in which people go to bed having barricaded their doors and their windows because someone belonging to the special branch of the police will break into their houses.... This is what we have been fighting against...This is why we are in this revolution for as long as it is necessary, to abolish this system".

The abductions, torture, and surveillance of civic society, journalists and opposition activists is scary and deplorable. We never expected this to happen in an independent State. Many of us believe that this is being done by State agents. I was also almost abducted not once and have had many threats targeted at my family and my person.

My 19-year-old nephew was abducted and tortured in January 2019. I verily believe that this is the work of the State, for the threats and aggression are always meant to stop us from raising legitimate demands to the State.

A country where citizens live in fear of abductions, torture, sexual harassment, unlawful detentions and other human rights abuses is clearly a failed State, especially where the threats and abuses are from the State. In its seventh global rights index report, ITUC classified Zimbabwe amongst the 10 worst countries for working people. This is a sad indictment for a nation born out of working class and peasants struggles for justice and fairness.

Economic and social implosion

The economy is on a tailspin despite what you may be advised. We are grappling under a depression. Yes, partly because of COVID-19 but mainly because of the mismanagement of the economy since 2017. We are in a vicious cycle with low wages, low domestic demand, low savings and investment and low productivity.

These factors are reinforcing themselves, hence our increasing levels of unemployment and deepening poverty.

Mr President Sir, don't listen to praise singers in business who lie that all is well. Many businesses are suffocating due to a hostile environment.

Peter Mutasa is the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Source - newsday
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