1 May 2024





"Workers Demand an Inclusive Zimbabwe Free from Poverty, Corruption and Oppression, "


















WORKERS of Zimbabwe, Comrades, Friends and distinguished guests, today we are gathered to commemorate Workers Day, joining millions of workers around the world to mark a day that defines the working class struggles and achievements albeit in an unforgiving environment.

It is sad that we mark this day when it is all doom and gloom for workers and ordinary citizens. The situation of the common man remains pathetic despite years of promises that all would be well from the government. While we were still smarting from the effects of Covid-19 the country has been plagued by a severe El-Nino induced drought. It is common knowledge that we are an economy based on agriculture and a drought not only affects the economy but the common man in the village who is set to go hungry. Our fear is that our government and employers are not prepared to cushion the drought through adequate social security guarantees. Instead they take advantage of such calamities to further worsen the plight of the disadvantaged. It remains to be our fear that the government initiative of giving aid is going to be politicised and we urge the government to put measures to curb these practices, while employers would hide behind the drought to stall collective bargaining.

Faced with such a situation, it demands that workers claim their space and rights. We are faced with adversaries that would want to suck life out of the ordinary for political expediency and profits.

This year’s theme; "Workers Demand an Inclusive Zimbabwe Free from Poverty, Corruption and Oppression” ARISE WORKERS ARISE!!!  is similar to our previous theme but we are now calling upon workers to stand up and confront the beasts. It is a war cry for battle. The battle for accountability in terms of our national resources, better remuneration and improved social security among others. Workers of Zimbabwe, we are now in a war situation and non but ourselves are our own liberators.

We have not seen improvements in respect of labour rights, combating of corruption, respect for the rule of law and the will of the people and restraint of plunder of natural resources. Non resolution to these matters is keeping the majority of citizens in bondage. The socio-economic divide between the haves and have not is widening by the day. This calls for serious introspection by the working class towards their common goal. We cannot have a situation where poverty is the common denominator for the majority while a chosen clique plunders the country.   

The plight of the workers over the years has not improved despite pronouncement that it has improved. Tangible progress remains a pipe dream despite several blueprints and monetary policies being implemented. Over the years, some of the policies have left workers in tears. We vividly remember how we lost investments, savings and incomes in 2008’s runaway inflation period and 2016 when the country introduced Bond Notes. People have lost their investments without recourse time and again over the years as the government introduced new monetary policies without adequate consultations. This results in non-acceptance of such policies by other stakeholders leading to their failure no matter how good they may be. Issues of trust and faith must not be down played. We moved from Bearer Cheques, Agro Cheques, RTGS and Bond notes without an improvement. We now have the ZIG and we still wait to see its effectiveness.  

Zimbabwe has a social dialogue platform, the TNF, whose aim is to foster consultation, cooperation, and negotiation on critical social and economic issues among the Government, business and labour. This platform is a vehicle for collective engagement and consensus-building on significant policy decisions but it is clearly being undermined. We are seriously considering if it is worthwhile continuing attending this platform.  We now doubt the sincerity of the government towards addressing the needs and concerns of the common workers who has suffered the consequences of these policies.  

The worker and citizen welfare today is very precarious to say the least. Workers’ rights continue to be eroded. The environment is punitive for workers, characterised by low wages and poor protection levels.  While there has been some positive gains in the new Labour Act No.11, we feel there are some grey areas that need to be looked into and we are still hopeful of the process of reform that is going on at the moment.  Today the right to strike is criminalised in Section 109, 111 and 112 and freedom of association is not express in some companies. Lawfare against trade unions and unionists is being perfected to bar them from accessing some workplaces particularly some international investors. We have also noted disturbing workplace relations in locally owned companies in the private security and agriculture industries. Civil servants and parastatal employees who had good wages in the past have not been spared by the obtaining wage erosion.

The worker’s dream for a good life is fast becoming a fairy tale. Employment and social conditions are deteriorating at an alarming pace. High unemployment has caused employers to wilfully disregard the tenets of social justice at the workplace. Some companies intimidate workers to join unions that are formed by management which is certainly against the Labour law and the Constitution that guarantees freedom of association.

While the informal economy is still suffocated by colonial laws, the pace of formalisation of the sector is still low. The national formalisation strategy is there, but there is need to move faster in this area in its implementation.

We have noted the worst violations from some of these Chinese employers and would want to make it clear that enough is enough. Their level of disregard for occupational safety and health is alarming. Most workers in their establishments are denied protective clothing and are forced to work for long hours. This cannot go unchallenged.

These investors are not only ignoring labour laws, but they are causing extensive land degradation with their mining activities. They tamper with ancestral graves and at the same time do not respect out traditional leaders.  This is unAfrican. It is the duty of the  government must protect its citizens as per the dictates of the law.

The mantra nyika inovakwa nevene vayo is indeed resonating to the inclusive Zimbabwe that we all want. But how does that happen with the level of inequalities that are currently obtaining where the citizenry is looking at the so-called Mbingas for crumbs? How do you explain a situation where an individual have access to millions of dollars they do not know how to use it except dishing out when workers cannot afford one descent meal or send children to government school? We have seen the elderly in the streets selling anything to feed themselves and their great-great children when some people do not know what to do with the money.

The pro-poor mantra is forgotten. The dignity of the working people is the beginning of human capital development. Investing in technology without adequate human capital development will come to nought.

We have not witnessed significant changes on service delivery and infrastructure although we are being taxed to the marrow. Workers and corporates do not see the value of the taxes they are contributing to the fiscus. Our social services and amenities are not improving. Most of our infrastructure is in bad shape. Most roads are just potholes, public hospitals do not have adequate machinery and medicines while access to clean water and electricity is erratic. The cost of basic goods and services is beyond the reach of many. An average family of six now requires a minimum USD570-00 to meet monthly needs.

As usual as workers we have our demands which we feel, if met, would alleviate the plight of workers. The demands are as follows;-

  • We demand above poverty datum line related incomes and better working conditions.
  • We demand full compliance of the labour law by investors.
  • We demand full and urgent implementation of the Recommendations of the Justice Smith Commission on lost pension benefits.
  • We demand enjoyment of social economic rights.
  • Ratification of C190 that  recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.and C155 that ensure ratifying states formulate, implement and periodically review a coherent national policy on occupational safety and health in the work environment
  • Affordable basic services and commodities.
  • Respect of the rule of law.
  • Resuscitation of the economy.
  • Alignment of labour laws to the Constitution.
  • Functional health delivery system offering free screening and treatment of cancers.
  • Stop Wage theft.
  • No to politicization of state donated food aid.
  • Stop Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

To conclude, our message to government and employers is that it is no longer business as usual. Honourable Minister, your government promised to listen to the voice of the people. May I remind you, take the message to cabinet that the workers are the people and they have spoken. We workers need better salaries, better working conditions and to be treated like 1st class citizens. To our employers, decent work is not an option.

Comrades, our journey from today is guided by our theme and the above mentioned demands as we fight for our rights. As a united front, let us take our fights to all available spaces and hold government and employers accountable to our welfare.  




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