Global Day for Solidarity with Zimbabwean workers: #Solidarity4ZimbabweWorkers

Keywords : South Africa Human and trade union rights Reports

The date of 23th September has been set aside by ITUC and ITUC-Africa as a global day for solidarity with Zimbabwe Workers. Around the globe the trade union movement and other progressive movements took a number of actions against The Zimbabwe government. This include protests at Zimbabwe embassies, sending letters of protest to the government of Zimbabwe and social media campaigns to highlight the plight of Zimbabwean workers.

For some years now, the government of Zimbabwe has intensified its crackdown on trade unions and civil society organizations. The ZCTU president, Mr. Peter Mutasa, was put on police wanted list. The military and police closed the country on 31 July 2020 and ordered people to stay at home. Protesters who came out were arrested, detained, intimidated and judicially persecuted while some of those suspected to have played a role in mobilizing for the protest actions were abducted and tortured by security forces for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Furthermore, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was labelled by the ruling party ZANU-PF as a terrorist organization. The ruling party also threatened Zimbabwean citizens and warned the people not to participate in protest actions. The threats followed the announcement of protest action against corruption by the 31 July Movement group led by Mr Jacob Ngarivhume an opposition leader.

The human and trade union situation in Zimbabwe has become critical and frequently, trade union leaders are been threatened, forcibly abducted, beaten or arrested. Attempts by organised labour to protest against government’s actions, policies and programmes that injure or pose real threats to the welfare and wellbeing of workers have been disrupted.

The Zimbabwe government has since perfected the art of denial and blame-shifting in an attempt to silence the people. It described anyone who raises a voice about its bad conduct a ‘detractor, a bad apple, dark force’ etc. for these growing and worrisome civil liberties infractions, the government has received condemnations from several organizations and governments, including the African Union Commission for its heavy-handedness against peaceful protesters.

Again, the Zimbabwean workers are bearing the brunt of misgovernance, the economy is melting down with inflation over 800%. Zimbabwean workers who earned a minimum wage of about US$500.00 per month in 2018 now earn a paltry US$30.00 per month. This followed the introduction of the valueless, mono-currency Zimbabwean dollar in June 2019 under the pretence that it was equivalent to the United States dollar. While the government has now allowed most goods and services to be charged in United States dollars, wages remain pegged in the valueless Zimbabwean dollars thereby exacerbating the plight of the workers.

At this time of rising COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe, doctors and nurses are on strike since 6 June 2020 demanding better wages and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). Rather than respond to the legitimate demands of these workers who have been the champions in the fight against the pandemic, sadly, these health workers were harassed, intimidated, arrested and detained on orders of state officials. The leaders of the health workers are facing criminal charges for the strike, which is a legitimate industrial action by aggrieved workers. And The government under the cover of COVID-19 emergency laws it promulgated, it has since been using the laws to clampdown on dissenting voices, including those that exposed corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 test kits and vital medicines and those demanding to exercise the right to peaceful protest.

In the light of the above, the ITUC-Africa, and ITUC has called on their affiliates and international partners to stand in solidarity with the workers of Zimbabwe and support the ZCTU demands to the Zimbabwean government to:
1. Stop the continued arrests, abductions, intimidation, harassment, torture and judicial persecution of the trade unionists, their families and civil society organisations and to stop labelling them as terrorists.
2. Respect human rights and the rule of law and allow citizens to exercise their rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly, including the right to strike.
3. Implement in full, the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry of 2009.
4. Pay workers with a valuable currency linked to the poverty datum line.
5. Allow the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Labour Organisation to expeditiously facilitate and mediate an all-inclusive national dialogue to resolve the socio-economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe.

This first edition of the Global Day for Solidarity with Zimbabwean workers was a great success as the entire world of world showed an active participation #Solidarity4ZimbabweWorkers

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