Worker's Day: Zim mourns death of industry

HARARE - Zimbabwe this week joined the rest of the world in commemorating Workers’ Day celebrated worldwide on May 1 as unemployment in the country hovers at a staggering 90 percent.

When Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, the new leadership inherited a vibrant industry that employed millions of workers but 37 years down the line most companies have closed down due to misrule and corruption sending employees onto the street.

At the few companies that are still operating, salaries for workers is never on time with others owed several months of unpaid wages.

When President Robert Mugabe won the controversial 2013 presidential elections, his Zanu PF party promised to create two million new jobs but four years today nothing has materialised.

Most urban dwellers qualified with univesity degrees have now turned into vending as the job market remains dry while teachers and nurses that have graduated in recent years have failed to secure jobs.

Skilled Zimbabweans have fled the country in droves as job opportunities remain remote while the few who remain employed having nightmares accessing their salaries at banks.

Mining activist Farari Maguwu said May 1 is a day to reflect and mourn the death of our industry. “It is a day to rethink strategies that can revamp the economy so people can earn stable income and be able to plan their future.

“It is up to government to put in place policies that attract investment and unlock our economic potential.”

Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch director Dewa Mavhinga said the government should focus on good governance, rule of law and human rights respect in order to create an open, stable, and conducive environment to grow businesses and revive the economy and ultimately create jobs for workers.

“Without a solid rule of law based foundation, Zimbabwe cannot attract the right investors who create jobs; it will only attract crooks and cronies out to plunder whatever remains on the country's resources.

“Bad governance and human rights abuses do not only keep investors away, more critically, they drive away the country's economically productive age group that is forced into exile to earn a decent living.

“Millions of Zimbabweans scattered across the world are ready to come home and contribute to development, but only when conditions are right and when they expertise and knowledge is valued without any partisan or nepotistic consideration.

“The government should encourage professionalism and meritocracy in all spheres and do away with partisan or corrupt tendencies,” said Mavhinga.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said: “We have millions of Zimbabweans toiling in the informal sector and formal sector where salaries and returns are irregular and inconsistent. “These are the real women and men responsible for Zimbabwe today. They are the ones making Zimbabwe ticking in spite of adversity and lack of governance.

“This is a special day for all workers in formal and informal sectors who are making Zimbabwe stand today without a government. These are the real heroes of Zimbabwe worth celebrating today not the looting politicians.”

ZESN director Rinda Vava said her organisation joins the rest of the world in commemorating the workers day by reminding workers to participate in all electoral processes in particular the impending news voter registration exercise and the 2018 elections.

“We call upon workers to exercise their right to vote which gives them the power to hold elected officials to account to ensure that a conducive and enabling environment for workers is established,” said Vava.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said over the past 37 years of Zanu PF misrule and gross mismanagement of the economy, the formal employment sector has virtually collapsed as the majority of majority of companies and businesses have either completely closed shop or drastically reduced their operations.

“The Zimbabwean economy now largely exists in the informal sector where millions of people are vendors and small scale informal traders. We have a very clear and unambiguous message to the faction-ridden and collapsing Zanu PF regime: they should simply step down and give way to a responsible and caring government.

“The Zanu PF regime is now beyond redemption, it is beyond reformation. On the other hand, the MDC is a social democratic political party that will establish an egalitarian and people-centred government that will focus on stabilizing the economy, creating new jobs, respecting and upholding the rule of law and private property rights.

“We will create an environment that will secure safety nets for the vulnerable members of society such as the aged, pensioners, the widowed and orphaned children.

“The State will ensure that basic social amenities such as primary health care, education, water and electricity are made readily available to the majority of the people. More importantly, an MDC government will ruthlessly clamp down on corruption,” said Gutu.

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