Ode to the country’s toiling workers
Today is May Day or Workers’ Day, that special day reserved to celebrate the world’s working people. For us as a party, this day has a special meaning because the labour movement is our venerated parentage.
We are a party borne out of the sweat, blood, tears and toil of the working people of Zimbabwe. We are a party formed out of the resolutions of the hustling workers of this country following the working people’s convention held in Harare in 1999.The convention was there where the working people resolved to form this great movement that continues to grow in leaps and bounds as testified by the party’s growing support and the huge numbers voluntarily turning up at our gatherings.
It is sad that this is the first May Day commemoration that Zimbabweans are holding in the absence of our dear icon, Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, the firebrand ZCTU secretary-general who together with the late Gibson Sibanda and others founded this epic movement—the MDC—the mammoth movement that has shaken the regime to the core in the last two decades.
May the dear souls of two great sons of our labour movement rest in eternal peace.
Together with the student and constitutional movement, the workers of this country were the first to say Enough is enough.
The country has long fallen prey to the vagaries of ineptitude which have led to the collapse of our industry; indeed a massive industrial collapse that has created a burgeoning unemployment rate that now stands northwards of 95 percent.
Today, our economy has become highly informalized while over three million of our educated sons and daughters have left the country in search of greener pastures.
The new workers are those millions vending by the sides of our streets. Today, I salute all of you for eking an honest living.
You are the new entrepreneurs and you are the heroes of our land.
To those mothers struggling to put food on the table in our rural and urban communities, you are the new workers and I want to use this day to pay tribute to your daily tribulations in ensuring that Zimbabwe’s families are fed.
To Zimbabweans in the Disapora, who slug it out under trying conditions to send a few dollars to your parents, you are the workers that are keeping the families back home alive.
I want to use this day to salute you.
To our patriotic civil servants, I acknowledge you all. Our doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, those in the army and other government institutions who continue to serve despite your inadequate salaries, I say may God bless you all. We take note of your great service to the people of Zimbabwe.
We note with great concern the ill-treatment of our doctors and nurses and the rest of the civil service. There is misery galore for our hard-working and patriotic civil servants. The recent debacle regarding our nurses and doctors shows that we need new and competent hands on the wheel of government.
Job security, safety at the workplace and decent wages are key issues affecting both public sector workers and the few who are still in private sector employment. The teaching profession, together with other sectors in the public service, has become an outpost of poverty.
To the commuter bus drivers and their aides who ferry passengers every day, you are the unsung heroes who play an important role in our lives.
To our pensioners and those who lost their life savings due to the ineptitude of this regime, we will restore the proceeds of your toil and we dedicate this day to your service and sacrifice to this country.
Whatever we are doing in this highly in-formalized environment, we are all part of the working people of Zimbabwe and we dedicate this special day to you.
Today, there is nothing to celebrate and all we can do is commemorate and pay tribute to our sweat, our blood and our tears as we all seek to eke an honest living in these trying times.
To the few who are still in formal employment, this is the last May Day of the workers without a bonus, without decent wages and without work-place representation. This is the last May Day for the workers to experience the undermining of their labour rights and the belittling of ILO standards.
This is the last May Day of disrespect of the Kadoma Declaration; of a government disrespectful and contemptuous of its agreements with workers.
Workers must unite and expect a truly new dispensation so that they join the rest of workers globally in living a decent life and enjoying the dignity of their hard work and the profit of their sweat.
The year 2018 is the best opportunity for workers of Zimbabwe to enjoy transformation, opportunities and prosperity.
From August this year after the next election, the army of the unemployed will join the battalion of the working people in the global labour community.
Behold the new.
Have a blessed May Day Zimbabwe!
Adv. Nelson Chamisa is the MDC-T President and MDC Alliance Presidential candidate. He writes this weekly message every Tuesday to the people of Zimbabwe.