By Daniel Chigundu
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has paid tribute to the remaining formal workers in Zimbabwe and street vendors for their resilience urging them to register and vote.
Zimbabwe has less than half a million formal workers down from the 2 million in 2010 and the situation is getting worse each day as more and more companies are closing shop.
In his Workers’ Day message to the people of Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said he joins commemoration of the working community even though formal work is now rare.
“On this special day, I salute the few Zimbabweans that still remain in formal work in whatever little is still left of our once-thriving industry. I also want to make special mention of our hard working civil servants who continue to slug it out without recognition and due payment from this uncaring government.
“The nation knows that had it not been for the election next year, even the staggered bonuses that are due to be paid out to civil servants starting this month would not have seen the light of day. I spent many years of my adult life representing the country’s formal workers at national level and I know the huge sacrifices that those working formally and informally make every day to look after their families and keep what is left of our economy ticking.
“However, the nature and the definition of the worker in our beloved country has drastically changed, thanks to our government! It is in that new but sad context that today, I extend a special salute to the new workers; the country’s teeming informal traders who continue to make our economy tick under very hostile conditions,” he said.
The former trade unionist added that millions of vendors now eking out an honest living on the pavements of our streets, to the men and women in the villages working hard to feed your families, artisanal miners and those in the diaspora are the real heroes who deserve due recognition.
Tsvangirai said as Zimbabweans commemorate Workers’ Day they must it to reflect on the situation prevailing in the country especially that of unemployment.
“However, as we commemorate this year’s May Day, we must also use the day for sober reflection. We must reflect on all these skilled people in our country and in our communities who cannot find work because of our government’s misguided policies.
“We must reflect and spare a thought for the sons and daughters loafing around our own homes; the unemployed university graduates who cannot find a job in the country of their birth and are looking at the slightest opportunity to leave the country.
“This is the sad national predicament we must think about this May Day, the educated youth who are idle mainly because in 2013, President Mugabe and Zanu PF lied that they would create two million jobs to ameliorate their plight but have dismally failed to come good on that promise.
“As we face a watershed election in 2018, we must budget that these hypocrites will bring to us a fresh bouquet of high-sounding promises they will forget about soon after polling day! The only difference is that we are now wiser,” he said.
Although Zanu PF had promised to create about 2.2 million jobs in their election manifesto, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the nation that government doesn’t create jobs and that people need to create their own jobs.
Zimbabwe is believed to have about 90 percent of its citizens unemployed and most of them have gone into vending.
Meanwhile, the MDC-T leader has said real work is in 2018 when the country goes for the impending general elections dubbed make-or-break for the current opposition parties in the country.
“My fellow countrymen and women, given our circumstance and all these visible signs of collapse around us, the real Workers Day is the day of the next election; when we must all turn out in our huge numbers to vote and make a huge statement about the Zimbabwe we want.
“We have real work to do at the next election and I urge all parents to encourage their children to participate in the politics of their country. I urge all the youth to come out in their numbers and determine, defend and secure the future that they want by participating in the next election. They certainly cannot outsource or contract out the determination of their own future to anyone,” Tsvangirai added.
By Daniel Chigundu