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Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa has condemned President Emmerson Mnangagwa for allegedly failing to unite a divided nation whose economic fortunes have deepened in the face of continued polarisation.
In a statement to mark Workers Day on Friday, Mutasa dismissed Mnangagwa’s half-hearted attempt to initiating dialogue among Zimbabweans through a grouping of less influential politicians coalescing under the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD).
The firebrand unionist said nothing less than genuine dialogue among Zimbabweans was going to salvage the country from its current economic abyss.
Mutasa said it was time the country’s leaders placed the welfare of ordinary workers and their families top of the priority list starting with sincere dialogue.
“We remain concerned about the high degree of polarisation in Zimbabwe and this continues to pull the nation backwards,” Mutasa said.
“There is no substitute for dialogue if we are to solve our political problems.
“It must not be just dialogue, but inclusive dialogue and we believe that the current political dialogue is inadequate and not inclusive enough.”
Mnangagwa is under pressure to initiate talks with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, whose party is well represented in parliament and commands significant following among ordinary Zimbabweans.
It is strongly believed anything outside the two most influential politicians in the country coming together would save the nation from its current economic mess.
Mnangagwa has told the nation before that he was not going to hire earthmovers to pull Chamisa to the negotiating table.
Chamisa insists, by roping in less influential politicians into his dialogue platform, Mnangagwa was not yet sincere on finding a lasting solution to the country’s myriad problems.
Meanwhile, in his statement, Mutasa accused government of short-changing workers especially during the current period in which Covid-19 threatens livelihoods.
“We could not allow workers to die for profits in the face of Covid-19,” he said.
“However, we are disappointed that despite our advice to the government and business on the need to avail social safety nets for citizens during these difficult times, nothing has materialised.”
Mutasa said government has ignored the labour group’s advice the $200 paid to poor households as allowances to cushion them against the impact of the lockdown was way too little in a country whose Food Poverty Line stood at above $2 000 as of December 2019.
The ZCTU leader also condemned government for destroying market stalls for vendors and informal traders without putting in place mechanisms to allow the affected to recover when the lockdown ends.
He also questioned why other citizens were still able to get 2 000 hectares of land when the housing backlog still stands way above a million, 40 years after the country attained independence.
This year’s Workers Day commemorations were held under the theme, “Stop Covid-19 Pandemic, Scale up Social Protection and Dialogue, Save Jobs and Pay a Living Wage”.