Zim@43: ZCTU says colonial era was much better for country’s workers

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the country’s 43 years of independence has brought suffering for the country’s working class leaving the older generation reminiscing the good working days under the colonial administration.

The remarks come at a time when workers are struggling to put food on the table due to meagre salaries with Zimbabwe’s extreme poverty standing at 44%.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) ranks the country as a part and parcel of a rare kind characterised by high levels of poverty among its working population which has been further worsened by de-industrialisation and the rise of poorly regulated informal sector.

Speaking to on the occasion to mark  the country’s 43rd Independence Day Commemorations, ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo said the hopes and aspirations that the country envisioned in 1980 have not been met, particularly for workers whose lifestyles are a direct contradiction of the liberation struggle’s values of: Unity, Freedom and Work.

“The status of a worker has diminished in independent Zimbabwe to the extent that the older generation reminisce with nostalgia and fondness the “the good old working days under colonialism” when wages had value and they could develop themselves and their families from their earnings unlike today.

“For the majority of workers and peasants, the 43 years of independence have nothing much to write home about,” he said.

He said the standard of living for an ordinary Zimbabwean has deteriorated in the past 43 years compared to the pre-independence period.

Moyo bemoaned what he termed a “very rare situation” obtaining in the country which has seen both workers in the formal and informal economy suffering from “repressive and capitalistic laws” that deter them from fully exercising their rights.

He said from colonial slavery, workers are now in the modern day slavery savaged by their own kith and kin who now control the means of production and their foreign investor friends.

“Today local workers under foreign investors particularly the Chinese are no better than the slaves of the between 1700 and 1850.

“It has become worrisome that our government is failing to protect its own citizens from exploitation while stifling the democratic space for trade unions and CSO’s. It is now a crime in independent Zimbabwe to stand up and represent workers when workers’ leaders spearheaded the war of liberation in defiance of the exploitative nature of colonialism,” said Moyo.

The labour body’s leader said retrenchments, firing and suspension of workers and trade union leaders exercising their rights has become a mockery to the nation’s independence and freedom due to perpetual harassment of workers in the informal economy by the police and local authorities using colonial laws remains a mystery.

“Basic services like water, electricity, roads, hospitals are hard to come by and infrastructure is dilapidating at a frightening pace.

“Most urban suburbs are receiving water for less than three days a week while going for over 18 hours without electricity per day. Our roads are all decorated with pot holes and no longer navigable, hospitals are in a poor state and schools do not have adequate components for learning.

“Ordinary Zimbabweans are now in a war against poverty in the midst of plentiful resources under the control of a privileged few,” added