ONE of the most outlandish contrasts about the illegal economic sanctions on the country is that ZCTU, the outfit which formed the party that called for the imposition of that widely discredited embargo, often claims to be in solidarity with workers who are arguably the biggest victims of the sanctions.
Time-and-again, ZCTU has been let off the hook, rendering millions of Zimbabwean workers jobless and condemning those who are in employment to unprecedented poverty while they openly endorse the sanctions.
That has to come to an end very soon.
And the good thing is that the process to transform ZCTU into an entity that really represents the interests of workers has begun in earnest. In late October 2021, Peter Mutasa, the then opposition commissar in labour was thumped by ZESA technician Florence Taruvinga.
Mutasa had become a nuisance, shamelessly and openly parroting the opposition’s provocative politics using ZCTU as a platform.
He had to go.
ZCTU had to be reformed. It had to be transformed into an organisation that, first and foremost, understands what it means to be Zimbabwean and, secondly, to condemn all forms of abuse of the worker by the West through their illegal economic sanctions.
It is our hope that Taruvinga will step up to the plate and fill in the yawning gap that was created by Mutasa and his useless predecessors.
The first step towards that noble goal is through denouncing those sanctions and lobbying vigorously for their removal.
The inescapable reality is that the workers have been unfortunate victims of the sanctions.
They have been used by ZCTU to settle cheap political scores against Government.
Which is why we have been at loggerheads with ZCTU for playing to the gallery, for their shameless pretense that they are a true representative body of the workers when all they have been doing is to use workers to push their anti-Zimbabwe agenda.
Let us look at how ZCTU has done that:
On May 3 2019, this publication traced the agenda of the ZCTU through the following:
“From February 26 to 28 1999, the ZCTU held what it called a ‘National Working People’s Convention’ to form a political party and on September 11 1999, the MDC was formed.
However, this is a party created to look after the interests of big business, the rich white commercial farmers and inward investors, not the working class.
Never at any point did the ZCTU confront white capital and commercial farmers who were exploiting black workers on the farms.
They, in fact, worked with the whites to confront the Government. Their target was, and still is, Government.
This is buttressed by former MDC-T leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, in an interview with the South African Mail and Guardian on December 17 1997.
Said Tsvangirai then: ‘We were surprised by the level of support. Things are falling apart…Education has suffered because it is not linked to any economic plan – because there is no economic plan’.”
What, then, was ZCTU’s economic strategy?
Why was Tsvangirai denying that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had caused the social crisis in the country then?
Below is what Tsvangirai said:
“The Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) is not the problem.
The problem is Mugabe doesn’t have an economic strategy. He had this huge bureaucracy, which was used for patronage. But the economy was not growing and he was spending more and more money.We are not living within our means. At the stage we had reached, some form of structural adjustment was needed.
The general vote is thumbs down for structural adjustment. But it’s a failure of administration, not policy. It’s a failure of the Government not the strategy. We had to relax and open up and allow business to operate without these constraints.”
Having successfully formed the MDC, now CCC, on September 11 1999, what followed was series of co-ordinated events that were meant to weaken ZANU PF and subsequently remove it from power.
Sanctions were identified as the immediate and potent tool to achieve that objective. Uncle Sam, who was, and still, is the MDC-CCC principal funder, was willing to play ball.
On December 21 2001, George W. Bush, the then US President, unveiled ZDERA as a sanctions law meant to make the Zimbabwean economy scream.
Below is what ZDERA says in part:
“The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against–
- any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or
- any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.”
This is where workers started being affected by the sanctions while ZCTU was either mum or taking sides with the MDC.
A July 21 2009 article by Steve Gowans titled ‘A Handsome Investment Opportunity: Washington’s Plan for a Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe’ brings to the fore how the sanctions were used to try to effect regime change in the country through illegal means.
“On July 25, 2008 Bush announced that sanctions on Zimbabwe would be stepped up. He outlawed U.S. financial transactions with a number of key Zimbabwe companies and froze their U.S. assets. The enterprises included: the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (which controls all mineral exports); the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company; Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe; Osleg, or Operation Sovereign Legitimacy, the commercial arm of Zimbabwe’s army; Industrial Development Corporation; the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe; ZB Financial Holdings; and the Agriculture Development Bank of Zimbabwe (sic).”
Gowans goes on.
“In May 2009, Finance Minister Tendai Biti pointed out that,The World Bank has right now billions and billions of dollars that we have access to but we can’t access those dollars unless we have dealt with and normalized our relations with the IMF. We cannot normalize our relations with the IMF because of the voting power, it’s a blocking voting power of America and people who represent America on that board cannot vote differently because of ZDERA.”
Herein lies the tragedy with opposition activists in the country. They admit the existence and impact of the sanctions when it suits them but deny the same when they are pushing their regime change agenda.
This is why they will continue to be punished by the voter until they come to their senses.
2023 will teach them another sobering lesson.
Let those with ears listen.