SADC labour unions urge for intervention in Zimbabwean crisis

SOUTHERN African Development Community (SADC) labour unions  are in agreement that the Zimbabwean situation should be taken back to the regional body for mediation, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general said Japhet Moyo recently.

Moyo was speaking at the launch of a research report on wage theft titled “Working Without Pay, Wage Theft In Zimbabwe”, hosted by the Solidarity Centre in partnership with the Labour and Economic Research Institute of Zimbabwe.

“Maybe there is a need to have another Thabo Mbeki [former SA president]. As to whether we will be able to get another person who will be accepted to bring Zimbabweans to the table, I am not sure about that; but we have said it is necessary that the Zimbabwean issue is taken back to the SADC platform. Mostly we speak to other trade unions before we speak to any other persons. So our colleagues in the region, within SADC, Cosatu [Congress of SA Trade Unions] included, have agreed that maybe it is necessary that the Zimbabwean issue be brought back to SADC.”

Moyo said the ZCTU was pushing the proposal but was not sure whether the SADC governments were going to accept it, because there was a need to get buy in from other players and stakeholders in the region.

“As labour we have not tired in telling our story. We have repeatedly shared this with our colleagues in the region. We have clearly indicated that while we did not support the inclusive government, Zimbabweans did benefit from that period. We saw little stabilisation during the inclusive government.”

Moyo said the same old issues that labour raised years ago were the same issues citizens were now raising.

“I need to stress a point said by my president. What are the issues we are discussing, are these new issues? The issue of wages might be one of the issues which have just cropped up in the past 10 years, but some of the issues have been with us for more than a decade. And who has been leading? Who has been speaking on these issues over the past decade or so? It has been labour,” he said.

“Why is it that the issues which we have been raising before have not got traction and today they are raised by a pastor and they get traction? Because these are the same issues. I have shared the platform with Evan [Mawarire] and I did indicate that there is nothing new about what he said because we have raised them before. When labour asked Zimbabweans to demonstrate against the Chidyausiku judgment thousands of workers did not turn up; those who were affected did not come,” he said.

Although the Zimbabwean story had been told many times, those outside the country had their views and most did not understand the gravity of the problems that the country’s citizens faced, because they were “not on the ground”.

“Our neighbours across the Limpopo will tell us that there is a third force which is creating challenges in Zimbabwe. That is their view; the ANC in South Africa, that’s their view, that’s what they see. When you bring a colleague from Malawi to Harare and say we have a problem, if the colleague looks at the vehicles being driven in the city and the mansions being built in the northern suburbs, he does not believe that you have a problem.

“So when you tell the Zimbabwean story not everyone agrees that you have a challenge because their views, the way they look at issues, are different from the way we look at issues. They don’t experience our daily life because they stay there, they don’t stay in Zimbabwe,” he said.