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NCA statement on Workers Day
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
April 30, 2013

The National Constitutional Assembly joins the working class people the world over in commemorating Workers Day on the 1st of May

Every year on May 1st, workers around the world celebrate their victories, remember their fallen heroes and recommit themselves to the fight for a better life. May Day is a day to remind the world that the worker’s labour is the wheel around which our world revolves and the basis upon which the world re-generates itself.

It is a day to take stock of the gains made by workers and how far we have come in fighting for workers’ rights and economic justice.

While celebrations are noted once a year workers still need to mobilise on 1st May and beyond to confront the many challenges they still face and increase the tempo of the struggle for a just and equitable society and international system.

The day comes at critical time in the lives of the working class in Zimbabwe as workers are relegated to 3rd class citizens in the national economy and political processes. The national government has failed to address class inequalities on the ownership of the means of production.

It does not make sense to speak of the right to food when a minority ruling elites have a monopoly over land ownership in our country. We also take note of the new constitution’s restriction to the right to strike for workers, whilst it bars civil servants from collective bargaining a scenario which betrays the earlier labor freedoms of independence.

Despite the conception of the inclusive government and a new constitution, workers continue to face the blunt of the ever increasing cost of living which is ‘matched’ with stagnated salaries and wages. In the same vein the constitution’s bill of rights is cosmetic as we cannot speak of freedom of movement when fuel and transport costs rise higher than the working class wage.

We cannot speak of the right to health care when only a rich minority benefits from a state of the arts health system whilst many of us languish in the public health care system with long queues, shortage of equipment and supplies and filthy wards.

We cannot speak of the right to life when so many mothers die whilst giving birth and so many children die at the hands of our public health system.

We cannot speak of the right to education when many working class children learn in an unsafe, filthy and dilapidated environment.

We celebrate this May Day amidst continued working class suffering. The ruling class in this country has immensely benefited from our hard won democracy. We are faced with a situation where our rights are at a risk of becoming meaningless due to the privatization of wealth in the hands of a minority.

We also call on the working class to mount a struggle against selfish politicians who have turned Zimbabwe into their own republic – looking out solely for their interests. The crisis of unemployment must also inspire us to intensify our struggle against greed and destructive market fundamentalism. With unemployment rate of 70% when using the more realistic expanded definition - creating jobs, eradicating poverty and reducing inequality has to be the top priority for government, business and labour.

Similarly young people in this country are at the coalface of the social malaise that confronts us. They are without meaningful employment, are denied quality education, and languish in many of our prisons or simply die of the HIV/AIDs pandemic.

The working class is still faced with housing challenges that is still persistent. The colonial spatial environment is still untransformed and low income houses are still built on the periphery of cities and far away from our factories. Our public transport system is still inefficient and unsafe.

We are deeply worried by the working conditions in workplaces especially in the mines, farms and factories were workers do not have such a luxury called ‘free time’ or leisure time. This is despite the rich and employers in this country have all the time to play golf and take overseas holidays. Basic Services continue to be commodified and citizens have become clients of the neoliberal state. This is why we should not be surprised when communities take to the streets in demand of better services.

On this International workers day we pay solidarity to the workers in Swaziland who are under attack from the Tinkudla regime of Mswati.

Many of our rights have become paper tigers due to the lack of transformation of our economy.

The levels of unemployment and income inequality are unacceptable. Corruption is a scourge. State power is important and we must use it – progressively, democratically.

For workers and the poor – without state schools, without public hospitals, without transport subsidized by the state, without a public broadcaster, or a civic centre, or a public library – there is no chance of education, there is no chance of health-care, there often is no chance of moving from one place to another, there is no chance of listening to radio of your own choice.

We call upon political parties to stop meddling in union affairs and call for one robust labour body to confront the challenges faced by the working class every day.

We hereby reaffirm our commitment to Section 4 of the Zimbabwe’s Peoples Charter which says…

4. National Economy and Social Welfare

Holding in relation to the national economy and social welfare that because the colonial and post-colonial periods resulted in massive growth in social inequality and marginalization of women, youths, peasants, informal traders, workers, the disabled, professionals and the ordinary people in general, we hereby make it known that our national economy belongs to the people of Zimbabwe and must serve as a mechanism through which everyone shall be equally guaranteed the rights to dignity, economic and social justice which shall be guided by the following principles:

h) Free and quality public health care including free drugs, treatment, care and support for those living with HIV and AIDS.

i) A living pension and social security allowances for all retirees, elderly, disabled, orphans, unemployed and ex-combatants and ex-detainees.

j) Decent work, employment and the right to earn a living. · Affordable, quality and decent public funded transport.

k) Food security and the availability of basic commodities at affordable prices, where necessary, to ensure universal access. ·

l) Free and quality public education from crèche to college and university levels. ·

m) Decent and affordable public funded housing.

n) Fair labour standards including: A tax-free minimum wage linked to inflation and the poverty datum line and pay equity for women, youth and casual workers, safe working places and adequate state and employer funded compensation for injury or death from accidents at work, protection from unfair dismissal, measures to ensure gender equity in the workplace, including equal pay for work of equal worth, full and paid maternity and paternity leave.


No Retreat No Surrender

Shinga Mushandi Shinga

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