BFTU JOINS THE GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION IN SOLIDARITY WITH WORKERS AND ZCTU LEADERS
1. September 23rd, 2020 has been slated as Global Day of Action by the International Trade Union Conference- Africa Regional Organisation (ITUC-Africa) in solidarity with the workers of Zimbabwe and supports the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) demands to the Zimbabwean government. BFTU as an affiliate of ITUC-Africa has earnestly heeded to the call.
2. On the 17th September 2020 BFTU wrote a letter of enquiry to the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation in an effort to engage with the Botswana Government on specific concerns that we have regarding the situation in Zimbabwe. The Ministry has not responded to the letter to date.
3. The global day of action is intended to raise union voices in solidarity with the workers of Zimbabwean and BFTU has therefore joined global federations and wrote to President Emmerson Munangagwa of Zimbabwe condemning in strongest possible terms what we view as blatant violation of human rights, intimidation tactics and high handedness by his government in dealing with recent peaceful protests by workers in that country including leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
4. We remain appalled that a democratic government can translate and criminalize trade union actions to the extent of labelling a recognized workers’ organization as a terrorist organisation. Much less so coming from the ruling party (ZANU PF) of which the President is the First Secretary, despite his peddling liberation-struggle credentials.
5. The listing of the ZCTU President Mr. Peter Mutasa by the Zimbabwean Police as a wanted-person in July this year (2020) alongside with last year’s charges subverting a constitutionally elected government, are poignant pointers to the arbitrariness of government in responding to divergent views.
6. We are concerned by the government of Zimbabwe’s unrelenting attitude and intensification of its crackdown on critics especially Trade union leaders and working people which only emboldens dissent and worsens the situation rather than enable constructive resolution of the situation in Zimbabwe.
7. Furthermore, it is disconcerting to note the downward sliding of wages and living standards of ordinary people and workers within two years of President’s Munangagwa’s tenure of office from US$400 to a paltry US$30 per month.
8. In addition, whilst most countries are seized with developing measures to equip their health services in response to covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabwe doctors and nurses have been on strike since June 2020 in demand for better wages and personal protective equipment (PPE). The President has opted to ignore their plight and rather arraigned their leaders before the courts on account of the role in the strike.
9. Rather than take advantage of the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) to clamp down on critics for exposing corruption in the procurement of covid-19 test kits and vital medicines and for exercising freedom of speech, we urge the President to seriously consider allowing dialogue for an amicable and political solution to establish a new social contract with the Zimbabwean people.
10. BFTU supports the demands by ITUC- Africa and ZCTU for to the Zimbabwean government to:
a. Stop the continued arrests, abductions, intimidation, harassment, torture and judicial persecution of the trade unionists, their families and civil society organisations and to stop labelling them as terrorists.
b. Respect human rights and the rule of law and allow citizens to exercise their rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly, including the right to strike.
c. Implement in full, the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry of 2009. d. Pay workers with a valuable currency linked to the poverty datum line.
e. Allow the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Labour Organisation to expeditiously facilitate and mediate an all-inclusive national dialogue to resolve the socio-economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe.
11. In conclusion we are also disappointed by the role and stance that the Botswana Government has adopted in dealing with the Zimbabwe issue. It goes against all the ideals that our fore fathers have taught us on caring for our neighbours taking into cognisant that their woes will spill over and affect us as well. We are a country that houses the SADC secretariat and currently chairing the SADC organ on politics, defence and security cooperation. This means we need to be at the fore front in dealing with the Zimbabwe issue.
Long live workers struggle, Long Live Zimbabwean Workers
Thusang Butale (Mr)