Zimbabwe – what about the workers?With the current hype on the peace and unity negotiations in Zimbabwe where the South African president Thabo Mbeki has managed to force the two warring groups to unity towards the newer Zimbabwean government, what about the influence of the workers in these developments.

For a long time Mugabe has been accused of failing the needs and interests of the toiling masses in the country.

While he has been claiming to serve the interests of the broader Zimbabwean community, Mugabe’s adamant approach in championing the rights of workers was marred with questionable suggestions which only seemed to extort more capital than attend to their needs as people who generates wealth.

As a matter of fact, the Zimbabwean newspaper that is considered by many as the government’s mouthpiece has posed threats to the labour movement a number of times. ‘

The hardship of the working men and women is something that shall not cease under Mugabe’s leadership,’ cried Sidumo Ncube who works for the Harare local government. ‘

It appears he will together with Tsvangirai work well as the exploiters of labour and protector of capitalists in Zimbabwe. We need a strong worker movement with visionary leadership."Similarly, the record of the current opposition party leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai should not be applauded too much.

Tsvangirai, since his involvement in the struggle for the larger human and democratic rights, has failed to relate to workers' issues per se.Tsvangirai’s recent rhetoric has appeared to undermine the very needs of the masses of people whose labour is equally exploited by those he claims to be trying to challenge.

Interestingly, Tsvangirai has in the past five years demonstrated a disturbing leaning towards the western powers, whose record towards labour in Zimbabwe and other third world countries is appalling.

Given the exploitative leadership of the European and American countries whose appetite for wealth is well-known, the future of workers in Zimbabwe could be bleak.‘Tsvangirai was doing well, but now I think he is selling the entire working masses to America,’ says Mrs Bvopho who works for a non-governmental organization in Bulawayo.

Labour in Zimbabwe will have to work hard to overcome the challenges of the collaboration between capitalists and the new government.

Mphadile Mohale

Let's strengthen unity between immigrant and local people Early this year in about May, we saw violent attacks on immigrants from various areas within the country.These people are just poor like any other South African.

Comrades, we should be uniting to fight for the better life promised to us, not attacking each other because of race.

People from various countries of the world come to South Africa looking for a better life because colonialism devastated Africa and capitalism continues to have an impact on us.

We must blame capitalism not the immigrants. They are not the ones who are deciding the future of this country eg houses are short because our own government has been very slow to meet its promises and unemployment is still high because of a wave of retrenchments decided by capitalists.

Socio-economic problems existed long before immigrants arrived and will continue as long as we remain trapped in an economic system that perpetuates high levels of poverty and unemployment.

Those who seek to blame the immigrant workers are aiming at the wrong target. Let us all strengthen unity between immigrant and local people and we should therefore stand up for the rights and dignity that every human deserves.Thomas Maluleke, Kempton Park local

Employment equity and affirmative action'Previously disadvantaged people cannot be placed in high positions because we have seen what happened in our neighbouring countries.

'I challenge the person who utters these words to a public debate.As we enter the new decade, there should be a genuine desire to correct the imbalances of the past and to do things in a just and fair manner.

In accordance with this issue, it would be proper not to involve leadership only, but also the masses on the ground. I hope that the incoming Numsa leadership will seek new ways of giving focus to employment equity and affirmative action.

The outgoing leadership made considerable headway, but we need to widen and deepen the dissemination of knowledge and skills to workers who express a need for qualitative improvement.

Paying lip service to something that has been done to favour people who were treated unfairly because of their race or gender is not enough.We all know and saw some of the numerous examples of African workers who attained skills greater than their white supervisors and managers but could never rise beyond a certain colour bar.

In instances where African workers don’t have the required skills for upward mobility, not enough resources have been put into skills training to address the problem. Why?More previously disadvantaged persons are instead increasingly losing their job security as they are forced to work as contract workers or on a casual basis in the name of restructuring.

One existing example of this is at Guestro Wheels at Uitenhage.Do we really have a new constitution in South Africa with a Bill of Rights that secures fundamental rights for workers?Recent events in many of our workplaces give me reason to believe that management doesn’t even dream of fair labour standards.

Black working class women are still the most severely oppressed sectors of South African society. We can never be successful while millions of workers in domestic labour, on the farms and in the factories, continue to be trapped in apartheid-style labour relations.

Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains!Vuyisile ka Fundakubi (letter shortened), VWSA worker

Turn frustrating workplaces into paradise

Factories are like HELL. The fact that every morning workers hesitate to wake up and go to work is evidence enough. Not necessarily because they are tired physically, but as a result of emotional tiredness.

The country’s capitalist-oriented economic system is the reason for this. At the workplace people are not separated from other non-living resources such as machinery and so forth. Workers are not treated like human beings.

Because the focus is on competitive quality production, management ensures that human resources – workers – are less of a priority than machinery.

Management appoints workers in strategic positions but then you find they turn their backs on their ex-colleagues at shopfloor level. Management always talks about budgets and cost cutting, but for management's benefit only. It is management's strategy to shift workers focus away from more critical labour-related matters.

Capitalists laugh when workers are crying. A happy workforce frustrates them. So workplaces are conducive to capitalists achieving their objectives through the unappreciated sweat of workers.

As workers we must talk among ourselves. How can we turn a frustrating workplace into a workers' paradise? If it means workers must engage outside the workplace such as in Cosatu, alliance or ANC structures, then we must do that!Kaya ka Yoko, VWSA shop steward


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