MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday made an appearance at the Workers’ Day celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield with his wife Elizabeth, quashing reports that the couple was now estranged.
by VENERANDA LANGA
The two, who donned matching red floral African attire (shirt for Tsvangirai), were met by cheers from the workers who numbered less than a thousand at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)-organised event.
Although recent media reports portrayed their marriage as on the verge of collapse, Tsvangirai and Elizabeth seemed cosy with each other and chatted a lot as they sat side by side.
During his address at the Workers’ Day celebrations, whose theme was Workers Under Siege: Arise and Fight On, Tsvangirai said the small crowd at the event signified the erosion of the labour base in Zimbabwe and severe job losses.
“There is deficiency of the labour base in this country which is causing mass poverty, and the problem that the ZCTU is going to encounter is policy conflict on issues of whether to promote job creation or to promote job protection,” Tsvangirai said.
“There cannot be a successful policy on labour market flexibility in an economy which is shrinking every day, and where there are no good conditions for investment.”
He said there was a serious political and economic crisis in the country and lampooned President Robert Mugabe for being the oldest leader in the Sadc region.
“We will not build confidence or attract investors when we have a 91-year-old clinging onto power. I was surprised to see Mugabe chairing young presidents who can be his grandchildren at the Sadc summit,” Tsvangirai said.
“I want to support South African President Jacob Zuma who blamed neighbouring countries for xenophobia and say that Zanuphobia has caused poverty and joblessness, resulting in people flocking to South Africa where they are now victims of xenophobia.”
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni also graced the occasion where he said it was the whole of Zimbabwe that was under siege, including the leadership.
“We are under siege because of bad leaders who engage in corruption and do not care about the plight of the people. I stand here representing four opposition parties, MDC-T, MKD, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Zapu (Dabengwa). We have resolved to unite and find solutions to Zimbabwe’s problems together with the workers,” Makoni said.
ZCTU president George Nkiwane said the introduction of labour market flexibility would allow employers to hire and fire as they liked, adding it would take the country back to the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme era.
“The problem we are witnessing in Zimbabwe is leadership failure. The country is in a crisis and from the look of things, this year is going to be one of the most difficult years ever with the country facing severe drought and government does not appear to be in a hurry to mitigate the situation,” Nkiwane said.
The ZCTU demanded delivery of the promised two million jobs, labour law reforms, a stop to political interference in industrial collective bargaining, poverty datum line linked salaries, and said they will not entertain introduction of a labour market flexibility policy, amongst others.
Nkiwane also demanded the release of abducted journalist Itai Dzamara, saying he was a worker who also needed to take care of his family.