The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is moving across the country mobilising for a national shutdown to pressure President Emmerson Mnangagwa to address the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa disclosed this at the fifth labour forum meeting held in Gweru on Monday.
Mutasa, accompanied by his secretary-general Japhet Moyo and members of the ZCTU’s general council, has been on a whirlwind tour of the country’s provinces, meeting their membership to mobilise for the national shutdown.
They have visited Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare, Bulawayo and Chinhoyi and hope to reach out to the remaining five provinces in the charm offensive.
In his address to restive workers at Mkoba Hall in Gweru, Mutasa said he was prepared to die or be severely persecuted by State security agents who will try to put down the protests.
He highlighted that workers in the country had been reduced to paupers by Mnangagwa’s government to an extent that they no longer had esteem and dignity in society.
“People who started with the issue of shutdowns had understood that when you fail to get food in the house, there is someone who has caused that. If you fail to get an adequate salary, there is someone taking part of it, if you fail to have enough money for rentals and school fees, there is someone who will have taken it,” he said.
“We must ask ourselves to say what are we going to do when we sleep without eating and our kids go to school without shoes? Should we continue to be passive just hoping things will wake up normal just like that?
“Now the government wants to have 2,5% stolen from salaries of workers on top of 2% mobile transactions tax, 14% VAT [value-added tax], 35% payee, on top of rates at councils and tollgate fees. The likes of (the late MDC leader) Morgan Tsvangirai rejected such scenarios and shut down the country.”
MDC national secretary for labour, Gideon Shoko said the ZCTU was right to organise a national shutdown.
“The ZCTU is very right to follow that route. As the MDC, we certainly sympathise with the stance that the ZCTU wants to take … We, as a party, believe the populace in general understands why the ZCTU has resorted to wanting to protest,” he said.
ZCTU’s organised anti-fuel price hike protests in January last year, however, degenerated into violence and death after government responded by deploying the military in a crackdown that resulted in the death of 17 people, injuring hundreds while thousands were arrested.
Since then, government has used brute force to thwart protests.