THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday said the country has enough resources to sustain itself, but was suffering because of corrupt government officials who are looting the country dry.
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa, addressing a press conference in the capital, called for a prolonged workers’ protest until the government addressed the issues affecting them.
He said inflation had risen to over 800 percent while prices have gone beyond the reach of many.
“We are failing to get adequate salaries as workers because of corruption, people are looting, people in government are looting this country. This country has everything it needs to sustain peaceful and joyous lifestyles. This country can ensure that doctors are paid adequately and nurses are paid adequately and our hospitals are equipped well, but people are looting. We have sufficient resources,” Mutasa said.
“We are, therefore, calling all those with Zimbabwe at heart to join the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to join the labour movements that are in the forefront of fighting for social justice, fairness and democracy in mounting a peaceful, serious resistance that can be prolonged, but that will usher in a better Zimbabwe.”
The labour body’s call comes after health workers embarked on a nationwide strike in protest against poor salaries. This is despite the government having announced a 50 percent salary increase on Wednesday as well as a US$75 Covid-19 allowance for civil servants.
But workers have largely rejected the offer by the government, saying it was a unilateral decision, as they were not consulted on the increment.
“The majority of our members cannot afford to buy bread, they can’t afford to pay rentals, they can’t afford to pay school fees. This is what we had seen when we asked government to ditch the Zimbabwe dollar and move to the multi-currency or the use of US dollars. Poverty Datum Line is now over $8 000, again this is quite conservative.
“A bucket of maize meal is going for US$6. How many of our people, how many of our civil servants, how many workers in the private sector, how many of those in the informal sector are able to afford US$6 a bucket?” he queried.
Mutasa said before the Covid-19 lockdown, ZCTU had already mobilised for a strike due to poor wages and the high cost of living.
The ZCTU president further said that the fight for better wages needed a collective approach, including students, peasant farmers, ordinary citizens, churches and other civic society groups.
Mutasa said they supported the stance that has been taken by the health sector to go on strike.
“Our message to the workers is, unite, mobilise and fight back. Don’t look up to the government, everyone in government is looking up to their own kids …,” Mutasa said.