By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has raised concern over the decision by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to snub Worker’s Day (May Day) celebrations since last year.
The decision to snub the event could be emanating from the fact that ZCTU has largely been associated with opposition politics and is also credited for giving birth to MDC-T in 1999.
Zanu PF which is currently in the government formed its own trade union called the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions which was once led by self-styled politician Joseph Chinotimba.
According to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, there are only half a million people who are still formally employed in Zimbabwe and the rest are now occupied in the informal sector mostly doing vending.
The workers in Zimbabwe face a lot of challenges that range from poor working conditions, lack of protective clothing, low wages and salaries, to the extent that some like those working for Hwange Colliery have not been paid in the last three years.
Some workers, especially those working for Chinese, owned firmed or working for high ranking government officials are not allowed to belong to trade unions and are constantly being threatened with dismissals every now and then.
Addressing workers at Dzivarasekwa Stadium, ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo said they don’t know why the government decided to snub them in the last two years despite being officially invited.
“It’s been two years now and we have been inviting the Ministry of Labour but they have been snubbing us, as you can see they failed to pitch up today and they didn’t even give a reason and I don’t know why?
Speaking at the same occasion, MDC-T president and MDC Alliance Presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa expressed shock that government which is currently the biggest employer in the country has decided to snub workers.
“I am surprised that the Minister of Labour (Petronella Kagonye) and the government boycotted this function, in fact, they have boycotted themselves.
“We as MDC-T we are following in the footsteps of the late icon Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, and he told me that in all things we should work to ensure that workers are happy.
“He said if we want to be successful then we have to make workers happy and that is why we have been coming to these events. In my government, when I come in in September, I will ensure that all government leaders attend this function going forward,” said Chamisa.
Meanwhile, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa has revealed that they had also invited Zanu PF to send its representative to the event but sadly no one came.
“..for our celebrations, we invited political parties that are represented in Parliament, we wrote them letters using the addresses they gave us, the addresses which we also know.
“For Zanu PF we took it to Zanu PF Headquarters and for MDC-T we took it to Dr Richard Morgan Tsvangirai House (Harvest House) and we requested these parties to second people who will represent them here.
MDC-T sent its representative Nelson Chamisa who is here and Zanu PF didn’t so we will work with those who want to work with us,” he said.
According to independent thinkers, unemployment statistics in Zimbabwe are said to be in the region of 90 percent while the government says it’s around 11 percent.
Zanu PF activists are of the view that those people selling airtime on street corners or those vendors who are constantly having running battles with municipal police are all employed to make numbers for the 2.2 million jobs promised ahead of 2013 general elections.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe warned the government against using military tack-ticks and strategies when dealing with employing adding that it won’t work.