Not in our name: ZCTU denies hand in planned protests

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By Makanaka Masenyama

LABOUR federation, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), has dismissed messages circulating on social media linking it to a “shutdown” of the country on July 1.

A pamphlet that has gone viral on social media titled #Shutdown Zimbabwe: Non violent stay-away warns citizens not to report for duty on Monday July 1st.

The protests, according to the message, are being organised by pressure group #Tajamuka/Sesijikile, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), Zimbabwe National Students Union, ZCTU, human rights organisations, Community Water Alliance and a group representing vendors among others.

But ZCTU president Peter Mutasa told Saturday that while the labour body was consulting its members on how to respond to the economic crisis and government’s recent move to discontinue the multi-currency system, “some people have been using our name.”

“We are not involved on the current calls for protests on Monday, we are not involved. Some people have just been trying to use our name, without seeking our consent or talking to us.

“We cannot be party to such an arrangement without the mandate of the workers. We cannot use the organisation without the mandate of the workers,” said Mutasa.

ARTUZ leader Obert Masaraure also dismissed the reports of a looming demonstration involving his organisation as “fake”.

“We will issue a statement. It’s false,” said Masaraure.

However, #Tajamuka/Sesijikile organiser, Tineyi Munetsi last week said his organisation had petitioned government and called for demonstrations beginning July 1st.

The ZCTU president however, added that his organisation was preparing for a general strike if government does not respond positively to its demands for a reversal of the latest fiscal policy which bans the use of the US dollar in all domestic transactions.

“We are organising. We have a resolution of the ZCTU general council that we should organise a general strike. We are now consulting the form and the timing which we are consulting our grassroots.

“Next week we will announce the dates and format. We are also waiting to get feedback from the Minister of Labour (Sekai Nzenza) after next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. If there is nothing positive for the workers then the strike will be on,” said Mutasa.

Mutasa attended last week’s Tripartite Negotiating Forum meeting at which a resolution was adopted to urge government either to reverse or review the new policy.

He added: “We are consulting workers across the country on issues to do with general economic challenges workers are facing. The erosion of their salaries, with very few earning the equivalent of US$50.”

Mutasa said workers are starving and failing to buy food, access medical care and millions of children are dropping out of school.

“We are not seeing any serious strategies to address the economic challenges,” he said.

The ZCTU also used its Twitter account to announce that it is planning a general strike in response to the economic crisis.

“General strike is coming, dates to be announced next week. Workers are not going to starve to death, or continue to die in hospitals or homes without medical care in silence. Workers are not going to continue to work for transport fares only, or to lose their pension savings,” said ZCTU.