By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Peter Mutasa has rallied Zimbabwean workers to evoke the gallant spirit once shown by late former Vice President and one time union leader Joshua Nkomo together with other fallen luminaries whose fingerprints on this front decorate the country’s unionism history.
In an address to mark the Workers Day commemorations Saturday, Mutasa also took a swipe at some opposition MDC politicians for alleged betrayal of the workers’ cause.
He said late founding MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was turning in his grave after some of his surviving former allies have jumped to bed with Zanu PF while destroying the gains of the labour-based movement.
The outspoken unionist said it was shocking that some opposition leaders who bear scars of fighting for democracy in the country had dramatically turned around to support their former tormentor’s apparent one-party state ambitions while claiming to be protecting the legacy of the once fire brand workers’ union chief.
“They understood that a One-Party State agenda was dangerous for all of us, there was no going to be workers who will prosper in this country when there is a One-Party State agenda,” Mutasa said.
“We must learn from Morgan Tsvangirai, Gibson Sibanda, Gertrude Mthombeni and others, how they endured the brutality and fought for freedom, equality and justice.
“During their time, they resisted the One-Party State agenda, they demanded and eventually got a progressive Constitution.
“It was through their fight that workers got a progressive Labour Act that promoted and guaranteed a lot of workers’ rights. Sadly, this Act is now being mutilated.
“Their resilience, consciousness and courage must educate and inspire us.”
Mutasa added, “What us, you and me, our generation is going to do as that constitution is being mutilated before it is even aligned to the laws of this country.
“What are you going to say when we allow people to butcher the constitution that is only seven or eight years old.
“What are you going to say when you greet people who sit in Parliament to mutilate a constitution that gives you labour rights.”
Mutasa was referring to the Douglas Mwonzora led MDC-T which has invited wide condemnation from its former allies within the rival MDC Alliance and civil society groups for supporting Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 2 which critics say was a brazen attempt by incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa to tighten his grip on power through tinkering with the laws.
The ZCTU boss went on to say that their theme for this year calls on workers to reflect and look back at how unionists fought against a brutal regime led by the now late state President Robert Mugabe.
“We never gave in to the dictator,” he said.
“As we are under a more entrenched and even more ruthless dictatorship, the theme calls us to learn from our past and draw inspiration from those who fought for the gains that we are losing daily.
“On this, we need to go back as far as the prior independence era.
“We must draw lessons from Benjamin Burombo, Masotsha Ndlovu, Joshua Nkomo and others, if we lack selflessness or courage, we must learn from the class consciousnesses.
“They were under a ruthless colonial regime, but as trade unionists they resisted every racial, exploitative and dictatorial policy of the state, they also understood that unless workers and the majority of citizens attain civic and political freedom, workers will never be prosperous.
“That clarity of thought and political consciousness must never elude us.”
The union’s theme for this year is @40 Fighting For Political, Economic and Social Justice In Zimbabwe.