Seke: A despondent people who can no longer afford the laughter and the smile
Fellow Zimbabweans, in keeping with our Gogogoi Tisvikewo/Ekuhle campaign, I was in rural Seke and Mhondoro over the weekend where people were unequivocal in their determination and resolve to vote for transformation and palpable change in the next election.
We have said we are prioritizing the rural areas where the majority of Zimbabweans live. On Saturday and Sunday, I was in Seke and Mhondoro where the despondent people in those rural communities can no longer afford the laughter any more. I interacted with business people, opinion and community leaders who all narrated to me the sad tale of their current penury and suffering.
They told me the now familiar national story of the collapsed infrastructure and social services; especially health and education and how the old and the infirm are struggling to survive under this inept government. At the two rallies, I had the occasion to articulate our vision on the five key pillars of governance, the economy, infrastructure rehabilitation, social services and international re-engagement.
On governance, our government will govern and not rule. Governance involves engaging and listening to the people while ruling presupposes talking down to them. Our government will look after everyone regardless of their political affiliation.
On the economy, our vision is to have a modern, inclusive and diversified economy by 2023. On social services, especially health and education, we want to ensure the nation is well served in these areas. On health, we have a comprehensive blueprint that includes both child care and adult care, a plan in which those with terminal and chronic ailments such as cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and other ailments will be able to access treatment for free. Our old people above the age of 65 would also be able to access free medical care in all public hospitals. We have a plan to set up the best health facility in the region for those living with albinism so that they can have access to glasses and special lotions. On education, our government will provide free primary education and resuscitate loans and grants for tertiary students so as to give reprieve to suffering Zimbabweans.
Through infrastructure rehabilitation, we will be able to provide employment to the millions of our young and old who are failing to get a job. We will resuscitate roads, railways, airports, industries and other infrastructure in a massive way that will create jobs through public works programmes. We have already secured funding for infrastructure rehabilitation so that Zimbabweans can find a reason to hope again.
On international engagement, our mantra is that Zimbabwe will be best for business. Zimbabwe will be a safe haven for investment as investors will be assured of the safety of their ventures. We pledge to audit and revise all business deals being signed by the current government to see if they truly benefit the people and the country. It is ironic that every day we hear this or that mega deal has been signed when all we see around us is the mega-poverty facing the people!
At Mubaira growth point in Mhondoro in Mashonaland West, I found yet another despondent rural community in the midst of plenty. These are the people favoured with the huge platinum reserves at the nearby Ngezi platinum mine but who are slugging it out in a quest to put foot on the table.
I heard sad stories of how our traditional leaders are failing to make ends meet. Of the 276 chiefs in the country. Only 56 were given vehicles as the current government desperately tries to curry favour with the traditional leaders. We pledge t give dignity to these custodians of our culture.
We are promising the best for the people of this country. As one young musician said in the captivating lyrics that have become the anthem of our electoral campaign, we pledge to take Zimbabwe to the next level.
Next week, we set off for yet another rural community to interact with people in the rural areas where the majority of Zimbabweans live.
Ode to the country’s toiling workers
Today is May Day or Workers’ Day, that special day reserved to celebrate the world’s working people. For us as a party, this day has a special meaning because the labour movement is our venerated parentage.
We are a party borne out of the sweat, blood, tears and toil of the working people of Zimbabwe. We are a party formed out of the resolutions of the hustling workers of this country following the working people’s convention held in Harare in 1999.The convention was there where the working people resolved to form this great movement that continues to grow in leaps and bounds as testified by the party’s growing support and the huge numbers voluntarily turning up at our gatherings.
It is sad that this is the first May Day commemoration that Zimbabweans are holding in the absence of our dear icon, Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, the firebrand ZCTU secretary-general who together with the late Gibson Sibanda and others founded this epic movement—the MDC—the mammoth movement that has shaken the regime to the core in the last two decades.
May the dear souls of two great sons of our labour movement rest in eternal peace. Together with the student and constitutional movement, the workers of this country were the first to say Enough is enough.
The country has long fallen prey to the vagaries of ineptitude which have led to the collapse of our industry; indeed a massive industrial collapse that has created a burgeoning unemployment rate that now stands northwards of 95 percent.
Today, our economy has become highly informalized while over three million of our educated sons and daughters have left the country in search of greener pastures.
The new workers are those millions vending by the sides of our streets. Today, I salute all of you for eking an honest living. You are the new entrepreneurs and you are the heroes of our land.
To those mothers struggling to put food on the table in our rural and urban communities, you are the new workers and I want to use this day to pay tribute to your daily tribulations in ensuring that Zimbabwe’s families are fed.
To Zimbabweans in the Disapora, who slug it out under trying conditions to send a few dollars to your parents, you are the workers that are keeping the families back home alive.
I want to use this day to salute you.
To our patriotic civil servants, I acknowledge you all. Our doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, those in the army and other government institutions who continue to serve despite your inadequate salaries, I say may God bless you all. We take note of your great service to the people of Zimbabwe.
We note with great concern the ill-treatment of our doctors and nurses and the rest of the civil service. There is misery galore for our hard-working and patriotic civil servants. The recent debacle regarding our nurses and doctors shows that we need new and competent hands on the wheel of government.
Job security, safety at the workplace and decent wages are key issues affecting both public sector workers and the few who are still in private sector employment. The teaching profession, together with other sectors in the public service, has become an outpost of poverty.
To the commuter bus drivers and their aides who ferry passengers every day, you are the unsung heroes who play an important role in our lives.
To our pensioners and those who lost their life savings due to the ineptitude of this regime, we will restore the proceeds of your toil and we dedicate this day to your service and sacrifice to this country.
Whatever we are doing in this highly in-formalized environment, we are all part of the working people of Zimbabwe and we dedicate this special day to you.
Today, there is nothing to celebrate and all we can do is commemorate and pay tribute to our sweat, our blood and our tears as we all seek to eke an honest living in these trying times.
To the few who are still in formal employment, this is the last May Day of the workers without a bonus, without decent wages and without work-place representation. This is the last May Day for the workers to experience the undermining of their labour rights and the belittling of ILO standards.
This is the last May Day of disrespect of the Kadoma Declaration; of a government disrespectful and contemptuous of its agreements with workers.
Workers must unite and expect a truly new dispensation so that they join the rest of workers globally in living a decent life and enjoying the dignity of their hard work and the profit of their sweat.
The year 2018 is the best opportunity for workers of Zimbabwe to enjoy transformation, opportunities and prosperity. From August this year after the next election, the army of the unemployed will join the battalion of the working people in the global labour community.
Behold the new.
Have a blessed May Day Zimbabwe!
Adv. Nelson Chamisa is the MDC-T President and MDC Alliance Presidential candidate. He writes this weekly message every Tuesday to the people of Zimbabwe.