Zimbabwe churches and labour unions calls for political dialougue

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THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday called on the country’s leadership to engage in inclusive and broad-based dialogue in efforts to address the country’s socio-economic crisis, in wake of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19).

This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic has further deteriorated the country’s ailing economy, with many companies facing closure, many people losing their jobs and sources of income while others are currently facing starvation.

In his May 1 Workers’ Day address yesterday, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said government had failed to address workers’ plight which has been worsened by the national lockdown introduced to curb the deadly Covid-19, hence the need for the leadership to come together and dialogue.

“The government has failed to address the plight of the worker whose wages and buying power were already eroded before Covid-19 and have further deteriorated as a result of the pandemic and measures introduced to curb its spread.

“In light of all of this, there is nothing stopping President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa from sitting down and engaging in inclusive dialogue.

“There is no substitute to dialogue if we are to solve our political problems. But it must not be just dialogue, but inclusive dialogue and we believe the current political ‘dialogue’ is inadequate and not inclusive enough,” Mutasa said.

Mutasa further said that the government had failed to avail social security nets for the vulnerable, to ensure that frontline workers are availed with adequate personal protective equipment and curbing price increases.

“Our assessment is that despite these suggestions, the government did very little to ameliorate the plight of Zimbabweans.

“Many citizens are starving in their homes and many are literally scavenging. There is so much talk without action, for example, when it comes to price hikes, the government gazetted a moratorium but we have not seen the prices go down instead they are increasing.

“Citizens are forced to choose between Covid-19 deaths or starvation. The government has forsaken the people,” Mutasa said.

He called on workers across various sectors and political divide to come together and enforce a new social order post-Covid-19, which will see their plight addressed if the government continues to turn a blind eye.

“This is not a time for us to be looking at whether we are from the informal or formal sector or from Zanu-PF or MDC. MDC supporters are struggling to purchase basic commodities and the same goes for Zanu-PF supporters.

“So, what is the basis of the division? The working class has one struggle that of destroying capitalism, corruption, cartels, nepotism, inequalities, gender and other forms of discrimination, State repression and dictatorship that have caused untold suffering to the worker,” Mutasa said.

ZCC secretary-general, Kenneth Mtata said given the challenges the country has had to deal with as a result of Covid-19, Zimbabwe desperately needs national consensus to effectively deal with the post-Covid-19 situation.

“The pandemic has exposed our fragile health service system and the failure of our politicians across the divide to close ranks against the pandemic.

“It has also awakened the latent regional tensions regarding the balance of allocation of resources for pandemic preparedness.

“At the heart of everything, it has exposed the deep divide regarding a mutually acceptable solution to the national question.

“We can either choose to continue in the same old path of paralysis and pain or take advantage of the Covid-19 to chat a new trajectory towards lasting peace, justice and sustainable prosperity for all Zimbabweans,” Mtata said.

Mtata added that this position, largely held by the churches and other sectors of civil society, sees a nation that is

stuck in mutually exclusive visions of the future that can only be extricated by a national renewal process through comprehensive and broad-based national dialogue processes.

“This position envisions a three-tier dialogue processes resulting, at the local foundational level, in an activated critical consciousness and agency among the citizens.

“At the second level of organised society, it must result in convergence of opinion leadership and agenda setting shaped by connection and articulation and representation of the key interests of broader society.

“At the third level, political and policy consensus must be reached, leading to a national settlement that will transform purely competitive and mutually exclusive visions to a shared national vision in which everyone feels included,” Mtata said.

He further said that Covid-19 had already laid a foundation for citizens, non-State and State actors to work together, adding that a consensual national dialogue approach could solve the country’s long-standing problems in the post Covid-19 era.

Source – dailynews