Articles

Of the civil servants strike and responsibilities of the inclusive government

The industrial action by Zimbabwe's civil servants is a week old.
Government employees downed their tools on Friday 5 February 2010
demanding pay increments from an average of USD150 to a minimum of
USD504 per month owing to the high cost of living in the country.
According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) the poverty
datum line currently stands at USD496 for a family of five which is a
far cry from the salaries awarded to civil servants.

Workers have a democratic right to embark on industrial action if they
have grievances with their employers. The statistics highlighted above
show that a lot needs to be done by the Zimbabwean government to meet
the demands of these workers.

In The Herald of 10 February 2010, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade
Unions (ZFTU) blamed the Prime Minister Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, and
service Ministers for failing to deliver on their promises. But the
question is whose responsibility is it to ensure that workers remain
satisfied and on a broader scale to pull Zimbabwe out of economic
doldrums?

The inclusive government, born out of the September 2008 Inter Party
Agreement (IPA) is responsible for rebuilding donor and investor
confidence lost due to the absence of the rule of law and the
democratic deficit which punctuated President Robert Mugabe's 30 year
rule since 1980. Farm invasions, which began in 2000, resurfaced a day
before the swearing in of the Prime Minister in February 2009.

These invasions were spearheaded by top ZANU PF officials including
President of the Senate, Edna Madzongwe and war veterans.   This
coupled with the continued intimidation and harassment of civil
society and MDC activists led to the continued decay of the rule of
law.

In any normal society, no one would invest in a country where the rule
of law is not observed. In December 2009, six employees from the
Gushungo Dairy Farm demanded that executives from Nestle Zimbabwe
purchase milk from the farm following its suspension on September
2009. This led to the temporary suspension of operations in the
country by Nestle. All these activities scare away investors and
consequently affect government revenue projections.

Zimbabwe is rich in diamonds, however due to looting; these minerals
have not benefitted ordinary Zimbabweans. According to the Human
Rights Watch, if diamond mining was regulated transparently, the
country could rack in USD200 million a month from diamond revenues.
The argument by civil servants that the government should use proceeds
from the sell of diamonds to pay workers is justified as experts
believe that the Chiadzwa mining field could play a major role in the
resuscitation of the country's economy.

However, due to gross mismanagement of natural resources, those at the top echelons of power
continue to benefit at the expense of ordinary Zimbabweans. The
Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu and investors mining in the precious
minerals have been accused of looting diamonds from Chiadzwa mining
field. The Herald of 11 February 2010 reported that two directors with
Canadile Miners, contracted to mine in Chiadzwa were arrested after
looting diamonds worth US$28000.

Raymond Majongwe, the Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe highlighted that if there are transparent operations
in Chiadzwa, civil servants could be paid using these resources. 'That
(government's inability to pay civil servants the requested amounts)
is rubbish because we know that there are diamonds in Chiadzwa. They
should sell those diamonds to pay us or if they are unable to sell
they can give us then we do our own selling, € said Majongwe during an
interview with The Catalyst. Majongwe further noted that the
disruption of farming activities, which are ideally meant to generate
export revenues should be dealt with as soon as possible to attract
more investors as well as raising funds to cater for civil servants
remuneration.

Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday the 9th of February 2010
highlighted that he appreciates the situation that civil servants find
themselves in and considers their concerns as it is their democratic
right to air their grievances. He also noted that he has been and
remains committed to improving the welfare of all workers in the
country and this was a key reason for forming the transitional
government in 2009.

However, although the Prime Minister stressed that he would work
towards improving the lives of all Zimbabweans, continued violations
of the rule of law by ZANU PF functionaries and failure by the
political parties to fully implement the IPA has led to lack of
foreign investment and stunted economic growth. To end this crisis
there is a need to put in place policies which are achievable as well
as sustainable.

The continued bickering and failure to resolve outstanding issues in
the Global Political agreement (GPA) continues to affect ordinary
Zimbabweans rather than the politicians involved.

While the main political parties in Zimbabwe's inclusive government, ZANU PF and the
two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations continue bickering
over the implementation of the Inter Party Agreement (IPA), the
country continues to experience socio-economic and political
predicaments.

If the inclusive government is sincere and determined to rescue the
country from the doldrums, there is need to develop a culture of
accountability where the inclusive government moves from prioritizing
power struggles to implementing policies which address challenges
faced by the majority of Zimbabweans.

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