While other countries would be celebrating international workers day on the 1st of May, Zimbabwe would be proudly celebrating something else.
With most Zimbabweans having joined the vending sector due to skyrocketed unemployment, Workers day has become like any other day, it is not particularly a cause for celebration as it reminds retrenchees and loafers of the rampant unemployment coupled with the ever increasing level of poverty plaguing the nation.
This reporter visited the mining town of Shurugwi where in the past years companies like ZIMASCO, Iron Ton, and Falcon Golden Quarry would organise celebrations for their workforce, this year there are no celebrations to talk about, most workers were retrenched, Zimasco Shurugwi division which used to harbour a workforce of over 500 workers now only has 50 workers on their payroll.
In an interview, retrenchees bemoaned the squalid conditions that they are living in and cursed the day which reminds them of their unemployment.
“Workers day is just a date on the Zimbabwean Calendar nothing more, hapana chekupemberera isu hatina Mabasa vana vedu havana Mabasa munhu wese rava vendor,” bemoaned Wilson Phiri (Translated there is nothing to celebrate we have no jobs, the youths have no jobs everyone has turned to street vending)
Another retrenched worker who declined to be named for the fear of victimization said, Workers day should just be stripped from the calendar until the Zimbabwean government manages to amend its labour laws and create employment for its citizens.
“Until our government amends the labour laws that continue to stifle, muzzle and violate the rights of workers, Labour Day is nothing to commemorate, who will celebrate this year’s workers day with everyone either retrenched or unemployed I wonder and ponder.
“The Zimbabwean government must focus on the creation of employment for its citizens by allowing investors to come in the country, without the aforementioned, international workers day would just remain a void day on the Zimbabwean calendar,” fumed the retrenched worker.
Speaking to the press recently, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General Japhet Moyo said the 2017 edition of the International Workers Day comes at a time when moral among the country’s workers is at its lowest.
“We will be running under the theme, Fighting Unemployment, Poverty and Inequalities, as we reflect on the ever widening gap between the nation’s working poor and the ruling class elite”, he said
He noted that,the theme was relevant as it sums up events obtaining in the economy, where unemployment is rampant and poverty levels are ever increasing,.
He said the prevailing environment is compromising collective bargaining agreements as workers are spiralled into silence for fear of losing their jobs, while the political upper echelons, who now dominate company ownership benefit from the situation.
In his closing remarks Moyo said the union will take advantage of the day to discuss strategies to increase industrial capacity utilisation, equity in the distribution of wealth and encouraged worker to vigorously participate in the politics of the country because of the existing challenges that cannot be divorced from the political situation.