Zimbabwe: Spare Workers the Crocodile Tears

Hypocrisy, duplicity, two-facedness and double standard are the perfect descriptive terms for the Workers' Day statement given by the Citizens Coalition for Change leader, Nelson Chamisa on 1 May.

Imagine attending a workshop on the health risks of smoking and the presenter nearly convinces you to quit. At tea break, you find the same presenter taking quick puffs at his cigarette. What an impediment! Gone are the days when politicians and preachers would call on their followers to do as they say and not as they do. The political market is so enlightened now that it petitions politicians to uphold the democratic principles that they generously prescribe to others.

Mr Chamisa's statement was overflowing with utopian labour practices which he never and will never live out. He was simply indicating right but turning left, all for political convenience. The youthful leader has a blemish labour rights history dating back from the day he joined the community of the 'learned' ones.

As a polished master of empty and outlandish promises, Mr Chamisa will never tire to give one if given an audience. Remember he is the same promiser of village airports, spaghetti roads, turning Indian and Chinese investors into domestic workers, and the $15 billion from the former US president Donald Trump.

On this May Day, he promised workers a heaven on earth during his anticipated reign. He promised to set minimum wage at US$540, and restore workers 'dignity.

Mr Chamisa receives a substantial amount of money from external benefactors, in US dollar. He has party workers at that party's rented headquarters in Mabelreign and across the provinces. Some of those workers have gone for several months without receiving their miserable wages.

His secretary general, Mr Chalton Hwende changes the party money to Zimbabwe dollar at the parallel market so that the workers are paid in Zimbabwe dollars. Charity begins at home. Mr Chamisa should start to pay his workers a living wage in USD. He must pay them "their wages before their sweat dries." This is the only way to show commitment to his promises. His promises to millions of workers cannot find buyers when he is failing to provide the best for his few party workers.

Mr Chamisa must show the way in treating workers with dignity. He must not expect Government and other employers to model themselves after his instructions and not his actions. In 2019, Mr Chamisa sent a shock wave after he fired without notice, 145 party workers that had been recruited by his late predecessor, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Chamisa replaced the workers with his cronies. It's a misnomer for Mr Chamisa to claim that the CCC is a labour party which represents the working class agenda yet he dismissed employees without notice.

Workers especially the victims of the infamous July 2015 Supreme Court ruling will never pardon Mr Chamisa for the role he played in that ruling. Mr Chamisa successfully represented Zuva Petroleum against its workers who were challenging the termination of their contracts on three months' notice.

The ruling triggered a floodgate of termination of employment on notice with over 20 000 job losses inside a month as companies laid off workers at minimum cost.

Mr Chamisa was put on firing line as he was accused of betraying the working class which forms the foundation of his party. Government had to hastily gazette the labour Amendment Bill to ensure that the affected workers get fair reparation. Although Mr Chamisa tried to defend himself saying he was just being targeted for interpreting and exposing bad laws, the labour unions and even fellow party members accused him of supping with the devil. They reproached him for failing to subordinate his monetary interests to those of the party. They argued, rightly so, that the best that he could have done was to recuse himself from the case.

Ever since then, Mr Chamisa has been drifting away from the party's labour roots. There has been a serious carnage of senior members that, together with the late Tsvangirai, cut their political teeth in the trade union. These are the ones that have regrouped under the headship of Douglas Mwonzora. Workers are nostalgic about the days when Tsvangirai was the face of the opposition; for the party's ideological leanings were deeply influenced by the labour movement. The new formation was hijacked by capital, hence the shift from its labour origins to capitalist interests.

Mr Chamisa has jettisoned his labour roots because of the rightists whose personal agenda is at cross purpose with the founding principles of the movement.

The party has been infiltrated by the right wing ideologies and agenda. With the current sources of funding and policies, expecting the grouping to go back to their point of origin, will be hoping against hope.

The May Day statement was just meant to hoodwink workers into supporting their agenda.

Mr Chamisa alleged that employers' capacity to pay real wages to workers was being constrained by draconian government policies.

He was just being economic with the truth. Workers know the author of their misery and employers know what is constraining them from paying handsome wages.

Mr Chamisa has been globetrotting the western world beseeching them to preserve the debilitating sanctions on Zimbabwe. We all heard him bragging about 'kudira jecha' and 'sunga one sunga dozen.'

Everybody knows that sanctions have impeded our economic growth. SADC, AU, UN Rapporteur Alena Douhan and individual countries across the globe, have all called for the lifting of all sanctions on Zimbabwe.

They know they are the impediments to a conducive environment which foster economic growth. The employment rate which he alluded to in his statement is a direct result of the sanctions.

Mr Chamisa is therefore the least qualified politician to comment on the workers' welfare. His crocodile tears infuriate the workers.

He had better keep his silence because he opens workers' wounds with the equal measure he opens his mouth to comment on their welfare.

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