Full speech delivered by opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president Nelson Chamisa at Dzivarasekwa Stadium on International Workers Day.
The President of the ZCTU, Mr Peter Mutasa
The Secretary General of the ZCTU, Mr Japhet Moyo
Members of the ZCTU General Council
Affiliate Unions here present
Govt representative Mr Ngorima
Zimbabwe labour centre rep
Mps MPs, Councilors
Leaders of political parties here present
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Comrades and friends,
I have been favoured with this huge honour to speak here at this occasion where we celebrate the role of workers in our society and reflect on the struggles of the working class. Indeed this is a rare honour, where I am invited to address our own parent.
We meet at a time when the majority of Zimbabweans, young and old, are either out of work and without work, almost hopeless and jobless. Under these circumstances,action only can make things happen. Today is the day dedicated to all those who make efforts and never give up.Workers United will never be defeated.I wish I could say happy Workers’ day!
Today marks one of the very important dates on the international and indeed, MDC’s all Working people’s calendar. Born as we are out of the desire for a decent living for the working class. We greatly recognise our roots in the Working People of Zimbabwe and in particular recognise the critical role of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
We share and commemorate the blood and sweat of all those of us who spend their time and energy in the mines, the farms, the industry and all the different vocations that make this country and the world what is it today.
As we celebrate this important day, let us remember that in 1999 the conditions that precipitated and caused the birth of the Movement for Democratic Change out of the belly of the working class organisations, represented particularly by our mother the ZCTU, still remain. Where there has been a change, it has been a change to the worst.
It was then in 1999 and still today that –
• There continues to be a deliberate failure of the economy to address the basic needs of most Zimbabweans, the disempowerment of the people, breach of the rule of law through state sponsored violence and abuse of human rights.
• There is severe decline in incomes, employment, health, food, security and wellbeing of people – an unfair burden of which is borne by the working women.
• There is continued decline or deterioration and in some cases total collapse of public services.
• There continues to be weak growth in industry and marginalisation of the vast majority of the nation’s entrepreneurs because of incessant patronage and alarming levels of corruption.
• There is widespread corruption and lack of public accountability in political and economic institutions which has eroded the value of our earnings and pension.
As we gather across the country to pay tribute and honour the contribution of the worker in 2019, we must never forget how far we have come and where were are today.
The country has been run down into the edges of an abyss. The living conditions of the worker have been turned into a hell in a cell. The government is on an agenda to milk, to suck out and squeeze out the worker out of himself.
We ‘are at crossroads’ and must therefore ‘unite [to] fight neoliberalism and austerity’.
Our struggle is indeed the struggle of the working class.
• It is the struggle of the parent failing to send his child to school because of the exorbitant school fees;
• the struggle of the parent failing to feed his family because of the skyrocketing prices;
• the struggle of the graduate failing to secure a job opportunity in this country of unprecedented unemployment levels;
• the farmer struggling to get either inputs or reward for their hard labour;
• the teacher standing in front of kids on an empty stomach;
• the nurses attending to patients with her bare hands;
• the police officer standing on the roadside of a scorching day with a topless hat;
• the soldier who is loaded with bullets to kill his brother and sister demanding a better living wage yet clad in his frontless boot.
It is a struggle for everyone against an incompetent bloodthirsty elite that has captured the state, its resources, institutions and closed all avenues for change to rip off the country and deliberately plunge the population into poverty.
You are aware already that as the MDC, your child, we went into the elections in 2018 with your mandate to take over the state and govern Zimbabwe justly, transparently, honestly, fairly and equitably.
The commitment of the working class in their project has been phenomenal, wonderful and commendable. This is indeed our first coming together as the working class since the 30 July 2018 Elections. Therefore, I am pleased to report to you at this opportune time.
We are meeting in a context whereby we won the elections resoundingly. The elections were a hard fought battle. I would like to congratulate every one of you for your hard work and deserved victory.
Our campaign, was incredible.
From this election, We have a strong presence in parliament.We are government in 28 urban councils out of 32 (88%).
Our support base contributes about 80% of the taxes collected in the country.
Our Presidential election campaign was massive and won the popular vote. We won this election and won it resoundingly. 2.6 million People voted for us. Even, on ZECs announced totals, this is the best tally our party has ever produced. It is also a significant increase with about a million votes from our previous best tally even by ZEC’s own figures
I would like to thank all those that worked tirelessly to support the party and our campaign. We have many people that contributed their time, money and effort to this struggle.Workers made it possible to score this kind of victory.We thank you all.
Indeed we are at crossroads. We must fight neoliberalism and all its undesirable tentacles.We must resist austerity.We believe in ethical economic under an ethical state.
The market is a good servant but a dangerous master.
THE NATURE OF THE CRISIS..
On account of the disputed election in 2018. We have a crisis of confidence and deficit of trust born out of a political crisis of legitimacy. The crisis of governance manifests itself as an economic crisis.
We have been thrown back to the dark days of shortages of basic commodities, ubiquitous queues, hyperinflation and price increases.All workers have had their salaries’ purchasing power thoroughly eroded.Teachers, nurses, doctors and civil servants in general are suffering.The generality of the Workers in the private sector have not been spared either.
Farmers are not getting a fair reward out their hardwork.
Corruption is rife and rampant on the back of inexplicable immunity and impunity. We have too many dealers instead of genuine investors.Racketeering cartels connected to the the political elites continue to be a national menace.
On account of all this, we are united with the Workers in calling for an end to this suffering. The struggle is just and the fight is noble. We must never give in to cowardice and brutality. We must continue on our quest for freedom and prosperity. Those who have rigged your will and vote can’t rig the economy.
I would like to assure you that the MDC will continue be at the forefront of championing the workers’ cause. We shall remain united with our mother body in creating better conditions for our people.
As we move forward, I would like to assure the leadership of the ZCTU that we are working on modalities that will create a platform for deeper organic integration and engagement between the MDC and labour to advance the working class agenda.
I am quite aware that there is nothing to celebrate today on this important day, but I would like to promise you that the end is nigh and victory is near.
We want to ensure that the rights of all workers are respected. We must all unite in our demand for a decent living wage. We must all come together to create decent working conditions. Our economy must grow to create jobs for our graduates. Gone are the days where a connected political elite plunder the God-given resources of our beloved country whilst the worker wallows in poverty. The worker is the mainstay of our economy and well-being.
OUR WORKING CLASS AGENDA
The MDC will run a professional civil service strictly implementing the public administration and leadership principles provided for in section 194 of the Constitution.
These principles will guide the use of public resources, personnel ethics, and transparency of processes, continuous professional development and training with the goal to push the development agenda forward.
Beyond these, the government will honour the following obligation to its employees:
• Ensuring competitive remuneration in line with the standards maintained in neighbouring brother countries in the region.
• Provision for a public housing scheme for the civil servants.
• Affordable quality health insurance.
• Payment of a risk allowance especially for personnel in the medical services sector.
• Incentivising work in marginalised communities.
• Affording personnel continuous professional development and training including paid study leave.
• Ensuring that the security services of Zimbabwe are turned into institutions of excellence serving the interests of Zimbabweans and assisting civilian authority in maintaining the security of the country.
Further we shall institute a comprehensive labour market reform to achieve the following;
-one labour law for the country
-institutionalization of tripartite forum
-social protection of workers and their families especially through reform of NSSA.
-Redollarisation to ring fence incomes
-stopping of all harassment of Trade Unions
-Reindustrialisation to create jobs
-strengthening of collective bargaining through TNF and emphasizing the PDL
– Free testing and treatment of chronic diseases to cushion all workers.
-eliminate wage theft
– institute discipline into the market
– Focus on production and entrepreneurship
– Promote technology transfer
– Massive creation of jobs through public works progs, tourism, resuscitation of industries and accelerated smart agriculture.
I would like to thank and appreciate the role played by the ZCTU and all workers’ organisations. It is a daunting task to continue to lead the worker’s cause in this toxic political environment characterised by total disregard of human rights and inhuman brutality. Your courage and determination is an inspiration.
Most importantly, I would like to assure our people that we will not tire in our quest for freedom. We have put measures in place to intensify our demand for good governance and better living standards for us all. I equally thank you for your resilience and commitment. We have suffered enough and indeed, enough is enough.
LOCATING THE EXIT POINT OUT OF THE CRISIS- THE WAY FORWARD
We are calling for urgent but genuine and credible national dialogue to resolve the political crisis and legitimacy defect.On our part, we have a 5 point plan to deal with the following;
1) Legitimacy and disputed election
2)comprehensive political, economic
And electoral reforms
3)peace and nation building, national healing
5)Humanitarian and economic rescue programs
We are relentless in our pursuit of your stolen victory. We will ensure that you get the government of your choice that will deliver on the promise of the struggles of the working people of our country.
I thank you
God Bless You
Adv Nelson Chamisa