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Tsvangirai destroyed the ZCTU

05 Sep 2019 at 07:03hrs | Views
Those who have meticulously followed developments on the country's labour landscape since the turn of the millennium will, no doubt, concur with me that Morgan Tsvangirai (may his departed soul rest in eternal peace) betrayed workers when he worked hand-in-glove with Western imperialists to form a so-called workers' political party, the Movement for Democratic Change, in 199 During a recent discussion on the country's new currency, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube called on the private sector to emulate the Government by increasing workers' salaries in order to cushion them from a cost of living, which is rising in leaps and bounds.

It is an indisputable fact that the majority of workers in the private sector are earning salaries that are nowhere near the alleviation of poverty stratum. According to some reports, today the average worker in industry toils for a measly $200 a month or thereabouts.

Conversely, the consumer rights watchdog, Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PRFT) says during the month of July 2019, an average family of six required at least $1 684,45 to sufficiently source food and non-food items. What boggles the mind is that employers in the private sector are not prepared to increase the remuneration of their employees to levels that are commensurate with the escalating cost of living in the country. Recently, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive officer, Mr Christopher Mugaga, said industry does not have the financial capacity to increase workers' salaries.

"Increasing salaries without increasing productivity does not make sense. Salaries can be increased, but the Government has to give a credible plan on how it is going to deal with the issue of electricity which is hampering productivity," he was quoted as saying in a local daily.

With all due respect I beg to differ.  I worked in industry for over two decades and for several years was involved in trade unionism as a workers' representative. During my tenure of office as a workers' representative, I attended a plethora of salary negotiations at both company and National Employment Council (NEC) levels.

One pertinent observation I made is that employers in the private sector, especially those in industry, are generally more concerned about feathering their nests than improving the welfare of their workers. Those who have meticulously followed developments on the country's labour landscape since the turn of the millennium will, no doubt, concur with me that Morgan Tsvangirai (may his departed soul rest in eternal peace) betrayed workers when he worked hand-in-glove with Western imperialists to form a so-called workers' political party, the Movement for Democratic Change, in 1999.

Tsvangirai hoodwinked workers into believing that the new political party that he had formed with the support and backing of the British would emancipate them from the yoke of economic enslavement. Little did the workers realise then that Western imperialists and local capitalist employers had clandestinely infiltrated the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), recruited Tsvangirai as an agent of regime change and used him to form a political party whose mandate was to destabilise the country, purportedly to catapult the opposition into power.

Sight should not be lost of the fact that when the Zimbabwe Government facilitated and played a midwifery role in the birth of the ZCTU, its primary objective was to empower and unite workers under the umbrella of one labour organisation, whose mandate was to enlighten them on labour laws and regulations as well as their inalienable rights so that they would be able to hold their own against their rich and powerful employers.

The heart-rending reality is that Tsvangirai threw spanners into the works when, for the proverbial thirty pieces of silver, he surreptitiously surrendered the ZCTU to capitalist employers through the formation of the MDC. Readers may recall that when the so-called workers' political party was formed, trade unions hailed its formation as a progressive move which, they said, would transform the labour landscape in the country into the proverbial Garden of Eden with everything - plenty of jobs, decent remuneration for all workers and utopian working conditions.

But this has remained just a pie in the sky. It is the greatest sense of irony that today the majority of workers in the country, particularly those in the private sector, are literally scrounging around to eke out a living. To rub salt to injury, these workers cannot access the very goods they are producing on behalf of the capitalist factory owners as the prices of the goods are being hiked beyond their financial reach.

It does need to be said, loudly and repeatedly, that by divesting workers of their power and delivering them into the hands of the powerful, filthy rich capitalist employers, Tsvangirai committed an unpardonable sin and he will, no doubt, go down in history as the man who destroyed the ZCTU.

The formation of a so-called workers' party did more harm than good to the cause of the workers; it nullified Government's noble efforts to empower and bring the national workforce under the umbrella of the ZCTU which, at the time, was a strong and resolute labour organisation. Sadly though, this left workers at the mercy of profit-mad capitalist employers who are now exploiting them with apparent impunity. With the ZCTU having been reduced to a lap-dog of capitalist employers, we have today a situation in industry,where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few company executives, who are drowning in riches while ordinary shop-floor workers are languishing in poverty.

These company executives earn massive salaries which, according to some reports, exceed $10 000 a month. In addition, they receive a plethora of mouth-watering feather-beddings that include housing and entertainment allowances, state-of-the-art automobiles and free education for their children, to mention just a few.

They cavort about the countryside in brand new Land Rover Discoveries, BMWs, E-Class Mercedes Benzes and the latest 4x4 Toyota Land Cruisers, among other brands, while ordinary workers foot or cycle to work daily.

What a shocking state of affairs! Our constitution states, in clear and unambiguous language, that every worker-manager or ordinary shop-floor worker- has a right to be paid fair and reasonable remuneration in order to have access to decent shelter, food and clothing. These are basic human requirements for everyone, and one should not be seen to be so poor as to fail to afford them.

Shockingly though, due to excessive economic exploitation, the majority of workers in industry are failing to access them. It is worth noting that there are some dyed-in-the-wool racist white employers in the private sector, who still regard black workers as providers of cheap labour.

These racists cling, with the tenacity of savannah ticks, to the ancient colonial fable, which postulated that the average black worker is daft, illiterate and is quite happy and comfortable when he/she is eating isitshwala (sadza) and amacimbi (mopani worms) and residing in a single room with his/her huge extended family.

There has to be a paradigm shift of this convoluted mind-set as it is an antithesis to the concept of the equality of all. There is need for racist white employers to be reminded that racial discrimination was interred with colonialism when Zimbabwe attained self-rule in 1980.

Today workers sell their labour to improve the quality of their lives, not to feather the nests of profit-driven employers.

Cuthbert Mavheko is a freelance journalist living in Bulawayo. Contact details: Mobile 0773 963 448.

Source - chronicle
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