By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has expressed fears of yet another contested elections outcome amid a commitment to depart from paper statements to meaningful action in the wake of rising socio-economic challenges bedevilling the working class.
Zimbabwe has sustained a track record of contested elections since the turn of the millennium.
The last polls held in 2018 saw the Nelson Chamisa led opposition outfit dismissing the results and dragging the ruling Zanu-pf party to the Constitutional Court for recourse.
Addressing hundreds of citizens attending Workers’ Day in Dzivarasekwa, Monday, ZCTU president, Florence Taruvinga predicted a contested outcome as the nation readies for polls later this year.
“We run the risk of running into another contested election if violence is not contained. We are also calling upon all state organs to act in a manner that would not jeopardise the electoral process and discredit the results,” she said.
The nation’s first ever female candidate to lead the most influential labour organ in the country warned the cost of a contested election outcome hits the ordinary man more than the privileged elites.
“It is high time the country exorcises itself from disputed elections that have earned us the banana republic tag and re-path towards a democratic trajectory.
“Comrades, we have nothing to lose from fighting for what is ours. From now onwards we commit ourselves to more action and less talk because the adversaries we are facing are deceitful. Our efforts and actions must not just be on paper; they must be seen on the ground.
“With your support we get our strength and aspirations to achieve more together,” she said.
Taruvinga bemoaned the high cost of living and paltry salaries in the wake of safety deficits at the workplaces.
She singled out Chinese companies for taking a leading role in worker abuses saying in the worst cases, basic labour rights like organising are forbidden at such entities.
“Chinese owned companies and private security companies are the worst culprits. They have enslaved local workers by paying low wages while disregarding labour laws hedging behind protection by powerful individuals within our political circles.
“Workers at Manhidze Steel Plant; Sunny Yi Feng, Bikita Minerals and many other Chinese established around the country are denied basic fundamental rights like provision of PPE, the right to join unions of their choice, are underpaid and are subjected to abuses.
“All this is happening at a time our worker and citizen protection standards should have matured,” said Taruvinga.
The level of informality in Zimbabwe has reached alarming levels with Zimstat stats showing a total of 2,8 million unemployed people of working age with concerns the figure could be much higher.
“Most workers are earning basic salaries below ZWL200 000-00 per month. The Poverty Datum Line is over USD500-00 per month for a family of six. Every sector is pushing for a living wage.
“The teachers, security guards, shop workers, farm workers, drivers, health workers, miners etc are underpaid in a weak currency. Our demand for USD salaries still stands and is becoming more relevant by the day,” added Taruvinga.