MDC, ZCTU confrontation with Mnangagwa's govt unavoidable

Published: 02 May 2019
THE main MDC opposition party and the country's biggest trade union - the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) - shall be taking to the streets to vent out their anger over the deteriorating economic situation.

In addresses marking Workers' Day yesterday, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, along with ZCTU president Peter Mutasa gave the first clearest hint that confrontation with President Emmerson Mnangagwa's regime was unavoidable this winter.

Their warnings came as Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema cautioned would-be-demonstrators on Tuesday that anti-government protests would be crushed.

But speaking in Dzivaresekwa, Harare, yesterday, Chamisa said the protests that shook the country in January this year were nothing compared to the upcoming demonstrations to be led by his party.

The January protests were organised by the ZCTU to object to massive fuel price increases effected by Mnangagwa.

Over 16 people died of gunshot wounds after a joint operation by the army and police used brute force to restore order.

"What happened in January was an initiative by our mother (ZCTU)," said Chamisa, in reference to the MDC's formation in 1999, as a labour-backed party.

"We did not even participate in that event, but when we are going to do our own, it will be the mother of all demonstrations".

Chamisa told the cheering gathering that the economic situation has deteriorated to unprecedented levels such that citizens cannot keep quiet anymore.

While Chamisa underlined that the protests would conform to the national charter, he had no kind words for the arrest of ZCTU leaders in January for their role in the three-day stay-away.

"How can they accuse Mutasa of seeking to remove the government from office when it's already out of power?" he queried, to wild applause from the crowd.

He claimed that the MDC has solutions to the economic problems confronting Zimbabweans, dismissing Mnangagwa and his administration as failures.

Chamisa admitted, however, that tackling Mnangagwa's panicky regime will not be a stroll in the park.

The youthful opposition leader said they would be awakening the spirit of the party's founding president Morgan Tsvangirai to help them confront the "monster".

"I know we are facing a huge monster but as you know an elephant can be destroyed by an ant; so my message to you is: do not worry about us.

"…On Saturday we are going to attend Tsvangirai's memorial, we are going there to raise his spirit and launch a new beginning. What is the new beginning? It is change, change for the country to prosper," he added.

Tsvangirai died in February last year after battling colon cancer.

He was buried at Humanikwa Village in Buhera where his memorial is scheduled for May 4.

Chamisa emerged as Tsvangirai's successor, albeit under controversial circumstances.

He is set to retain the party's presidency this month after the MDC's 13 provinces nominated him to stand unopposed.

In contradicting remarks, the 41-year-old politician reiterated his call for dialogue yesterday, saying it is the only solution that can lift the country from the abyss, adding that the dialogue should be predicated on genuine reforms.

He also railed at the country's leadership for preaching austerity when they do not walk the talk themselves.

Chamisa said at a time when ordinary citizens are tightening their belts, those in leadership are not.

"They are asking us to tighten our belts, yet they do not have belts and we have no pants," he said, while also denigrating the leadership for seeking treatment abroad.

He said it becomes difficult to believe government when it pleads bankruptcy when its leaders are living in the lap of luxury.

He therefore said government must pay civil servants in United States dollars.

Speaking at the same occasion, Mutasa said their only option is to take to the streets to protest government's failed policies.

" … if the government continues to ignore the pleas of the suffering workers and citizens, the ZCTU will be left with no option than to mobilise workers for peaceful pickets, demonstrations, general strikes and other such actions provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and our labour laws," he said.

The ZCTU boss said government's "neoliberal fiscal and monetary policies" have worsened the plight of workers and Zimbabweans in general.

Instead of ameliorating the crisis, he said these measures have increased taxation, fuelled price increases of goods and services while failing to ease the cash crisis.

Mutasa said there is need to negotiate a new social contract through public engagement.

The May Day event was attended by several trade unionists, MDC officials and a government representative, who was booed by the crowd throughout his speech.

The celebrations were held at a time when the country's economy is failing to tick.

According to the ZCTU, prices have gone up by more than 300 percent over the last few months, seriously eroding incomes of ordinary workers.
- dailynews
Tags: ZCTU,


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