COSATU endorses protests

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COSATU supports protests in Zimbabwe

Bongani Masuka

13 July 2016

Federation urges people to continue with the struggle and not idly watch on while the govt tramples on their rights

COSATU supports the popular protests by the people of Zimbabwe for their rights

13 July 2016

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) having consulted with the workers of Zimbabwe under their federation, the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) express its full support to the people of Zimbabwe for engaging in peaceful protests and stay-aways to demand government accountability after decades of suffering and serious economic decline caused by bad governance, corruption and economic mismanagement. 

COSATU urges the people of Zimbabwe to continue with the struggle and not to watch in idle while the government tramples upon the rights of workers and ordinary citizens. Zimbabweans have, for a long time now, tolerated their miserable conditions resulting from the violation of their rights by the government. Such coordinated mass action is the only language that unresponsive regimes understand.

Memories of Operation Restore Order/Murambatsvina of 2005 that left 700 000 households without jobs and accommodation echo the heavy handedness of the ZANU-PF regime in dealing with its perceived enemies. Houses were demolished, people were displaced and thousands were rendered jobless as a result of company closures instigated by poor investment policies and generalised crisis of poor economic management.

The government has committed serious socio-economic atrocities against its people for years, with the latest being the cutting off people’s livelihoods in banning importation of basic commodities and well as trying to introduce the valueless bond notes to the populace.

COSATU fully supports our sister federation, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the current wave of peaceful protests in Zimbabwe. It is only the determination of the people and their united action that will confront corruption, poverty, hunger, unemployment and inequalities that cause misery to the majority. COSATU is further calling upon the people of Zimbabwe to intensify their mass action until the government addresses their concerns. We urge trade unions, civil society and pressure groups in Zimbabwe to stand up against public injustice and corruption which has reduced the country to sterility and resulted in mass crisis.

COSATU also castigates the brutal manner in which the Zimbabwe Republic Police treated protesters in custody. Such police brutality of torturing protestors in custody shows the devious nature of police state that Zimbabwe is today. The government is annihilating its tax payers by unleashing its police to terrorise them for exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate against social ills and bad governance. Zimbabweans must stand up and force the government to account for the brutality and demand an end to misrule, corruption, exploitation, and economic meltdown.

The ZANU-PF government must not take lightly the growing voices of discontent but instead attend to the issues being raised by the masses, instead of diverting attention through populist rhetoric. The masses have the power and right to determine who and how should they be ruled. With an unemployment rate of alarming and very huge percentage Zimbabweans are now scattered around the region, which is a clear sign of failure by a government to cater for its people.  COSATU further reminds the government of Zimbabwe that it has a duty to create employment and meet the basic needs of its citizens if it wants to curb civil strife and improve their living conditions. 

Controversial and unpopular policies that fail to deliver tangible results are dangerous and must be rejected, as they have led to the deepening crisis and poverty, now further compounded by the latest monster in the form of the Special Economic Zones Bill.  The Bill in its present state is a conveyor belt to slavery as it seeks to ouster the application of labour standards in the economic Zones. The government needs to be warned that such an approach would foment unrest and public revolt. Zimbabweans need practical economic revival solutions not the piecemeal approaches disguised as SEZ’s that follow the failed Export Processing Zones of the 1990’s.

COSATU remains in constant touch with the ZCTU to determine how best working class solidarity can assist the workers and people of Zimbabwe to take forward in concrete terms, their legitimate struggles. We shall also be mobilising SATUCC, our regional body to take an active interest and role in building more solidarity, particularly as we move towards SADC Heads of States summit in Swaziland, taking place towards end of August, where the issues raised by the workers and people of Zimbabwe shall play a central role.

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all detained, end to torture and police harassment, as well as guarantee of the right to free and peaceful protest.

Issued by Bongani Masuka, International Relations Secretary, COSATU, 13 July 2016

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