BY OBEY MANAYITI / RUVIMBO MUCHENJE
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday warned that poverty and the worsening economic crisis will push people onto the streets to demonstrate against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
He was addressing thousands of people who had gathered at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)-organised Workers Day celebrations in Dzivaresekwa.
He said since time immemorial, protests by the labour unions were an early warning system to the incumbent government.
The MDC leader said proper dialogue was the only solution to the country’s seemingly insurmountable problems, which the present government was failing to solve. “The working class agenda is still the centre of the agenda,” Chamisa said.
“ZCTU is organising people, MDC is mobilising people, civil society is co-ordinating people. We don’t need any money from the British. Our co-ordinator is poverty, our mobiliser is unemployment.”
Chamisa said when the opposition eventually calls for the next demonstrations against the depressing economic situation, they will surpass the January fuel price hike protests organised by by the ZCTU.
The protests turned violent, with State security agents killing 20 people in suppressing the protests, arrested 1 000 people, while nearly 200 were left nursing gunshot wounds.
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He accused Mnangagwa’s government of being blanketed by corruption and has shown no clear agenda to revive the economy.
He also indicated that the so-called reforms were bringing untold suffering on the people.
“The crisis in the present administration of Mnangagwa is that their core business is not to plan, but to plot,” Chamisa said, while accusing government of stocking up State armouries to deal with dissent, but failing to arrest the worsening economic situation.
Chamisa demanded that workers be paid in United States dollars.
He said an MDC government would introduce an unemployed benefit fund from the vast country’s resources.
He also took a swipe at Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga for allegedly failing to articulate issues in the country at public fora.
Chamisa insisted that last year’s elections were rigged and that Mnangagwa would find it difficult to rule.
“There won’t be a way forward in this country before we dialogue. We must agree that elections were stolen. Yes, the court finished the legal dispute, but there is a political dispute. Courts do not adjudicate political disputes, we need to dialogue about the future of this country.”
Chamisa said there was need for genuine political and electoral reforms, peace-building and nation-building where the aggressors ask for forgiveness from those that were wronged.
He called for productivity and discipline within the economy, saying the Mnangagwa administration had no capacity to deal with corruption because of immunity and impunity, hence the need for new leadership.
ZCTU leader Peter Mutasa said demonstrations would be the way to go if things fail to change and that soon, they would announce their programmes.
Mutasa, who has a case before the courts for allegedly trying to overthrow the government over the January protests, said arbitrary arrests would not solve the problem, while accusing government of failing to craft solutions for the economy.
“If the government continues to ignore the pleas of the suffering workers and citizens, the ZCTU will be left with no option than to mobilise workers for peaceful pickets, demonstrations, general strikes and other such actions provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and our labour laws,” Mutasa said.
He said it was shameful that Mnangagwa’s government was doing worse than that of ex-leader Robert Mugabe, who was deposed in a coup in November 2017.
The MDC leader said his party will be in Buhera for the memorial of the opposition party’s founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose resolve for fighting for change and transformation will be reignited.
Several MDC officials, among them Elias Mudzuri, Tendai Biti, Paurina Mupariwa, Harare mayor Herbert Gomba and some legislators, attended the celebrations.
Meanwhile, the acting director for labour and administration in the Labour ministry, Langton Ngorima, was booed for the larger part of his speech, with workers saying the government had shown no commitment to deal with their plight.
The speech was delivered on behalf of Labour minister Sekai Nzenza.