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ZCTU pressures Mnangagwa into negotiations.. union warns failure to act would lead to unrest

By Xolisani Ncube and Mthandazo Nyoni | NewsDay |

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has implored President Emmerson Mnangagwa to urgently convene a Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) meeting to address economic challenges being faced by the nation, saying failure to act would lead to unrest.

ZCTU president Peter Mutasa (Picture by NewsDay)
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa (Picture by NewsDay)

The prevailing economic crisis has seen inflation skyrocketing and prices rising beyond the reach of many.

“Your Excellency, the situation on the ground is volatile and the nation is on the edge. Your intervention in this matter is urgently sought,” a letter written by ZCTU president Peter Mutasa to Mnangagwa dated May 29, read.

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This is the second time that labour has demanded dialogue with government, saying if the State fails to call for a national TNF, the situation would explode and demonstrations were bound to take place.

“Your Excellency, the rising inflation and prices has had a devastating impact on ordinary citizens incomes for those lucky enough to be in work or to have a pension, (which has been) miserably eroded, condemning many into abject poverty,” Mutasa said.

“Their predicament is worsened by the fact that most people do not have access to foreign exchange, while service providers are demanding payment in hard currency. All of this leaves most people unable to pay for critical services, be it education, housing, healthcare or transport.”

The letter by the country’s largest labour federation follows a resolution of its general council to engage government on the crisis before rolling out demonstrations and other forms of protests to force authorities to act on the economy.

ZCTU said the TNF was a matter of urgency and government needs to engage labour and business to arrest the economic deterioration.

In January, it organised a three-day stayaway after Mnangagwa announced a 150% fuel price hike.

The stayaway turned violent, with security agents killing 17 people to ruthlessly crush the demonstrations, according to human rights groups. Hundreds other were injured.