ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) commiserates with both the working and unemployed people of Zimbabwe as they grapple to make ends meet at a time when they are shattered by innumerable challenges afflicting them and calls upon government to repeal draconian legislation which violates trade union rights.
On this International Workers Day, which is commemorated every year on 1 May, ZLHR recalls the historic struggles, commitment and extraordinary sacrifices made by local and global workers that ushered hard won gains.
ZLHR salutes workers for their sacrifice in upholding the critical values of social justice and for demanding respect for fundamental rights at workplaces and their determination to build a better future.
With the fatal impact of coronavirus lessening in recent months, ZLHR pays tribute to workers particularly first responders who have been on the frontlines providing essential goods and services and helping keeping people safe during the outbreak of the devastating pandemic.
While this virus appears to be receding, ZLHR is outraged by the unending pandemic which is the deepening erosion of workers’ rights and fundamental freedoms.
We note with particular concern the persecution and prosecution of teacher trade unionists, ordinary workers and individual citizens, which in most cases has failed to yield anything tangible in terms of convictions as they have been acquitted after standing trial on flimsy charges.
Of great concern to ZLHR too, is the recent enactment of the Health Services Amendment Act, which outlaws industrial action lasting more than three days by healthcare workers and requires them to provide written notice of 48 hours before a job action begins.
ZLHR condemns the enactment of such a draconian law and the unjustified and punitive sanctions it imposes on healthcare workers as they are contrary to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, which are fundamental freedoms enshrined in section 61 and section 58 of the Constitution.
Promulgation of such retrogressive legislation has the effect of stifling the rights of the working people and is in contravention of the International Labour Organisation‘s principles concerning the rights to strike which Zimbabwe ratified and which states that “no one should be penalised for carrying out or attempting to carry out a legitimate strike and that penal sanctions should not be imposed on any worker for participating in a peaceful strike.”
While ordinary workers and citizens grapple with the debilitating economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe, which is punctuated by astronomic prices of goods and services and the levying of the same in scarce foreign currency, it is perturbing to note widespread media reports of endemic corruption in both the public and private sector and the unprecedented looting of country’s resources including grand-scale asset stripping.
It is saddening that Zimbabwean workers remain wallowing in extreme levels of poverty even though the country is endowed with natural resources such as precious minerals, which are being exploited by the few elite and are also grappling with shortages of basic amenities.
ZLHR reminds government of its obligations contained in the founding values and principles of the Constitution which places duty for it to adhere to the principles of good governance which entails transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness.
Owing to company closures and uncompetitive wages and salaries, most workers have been condemned to informal sector trading. However, it is worrying that those eking out a living by way of informal employment are always at the mercy of government as running battles continue to be experienced between informal sector traders and municipal police and Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, and this has at times led to arrest and prosecution of informal traders on flimsy charges.
As an administration which frequently parrots that it is a listening government, ZLHR calls upon it to;
- Immediately implement vigorous measures to arrest the escalating prices of commodities and services and tame the local currency instability in order to protect the purchasing power of workers and their families and dependants;
- Boost worker’s income through slashing excessive taxes and high mandatory pension contributions.
- Respect, protect and promote the right of all workers to petition and demonstrate peacefully for better working conditions and their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association;
- Stop the persecution and prosecution of workers and labour activists and repeal the Health Services Amendment Act;
Qina Sisebenzi Qina!
Shinga Mushandi Shinga!
Long Live Zimbabwean Workers!
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118
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