Chris Mahove/ Business
The Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) met with securocrats last week in Harare where they told the country’s security sector that the current crisis in the country had now become a threat to national security.
The meeting, held at the Zimbabwe National Defence University on May 4, brought together business, labour, government and the military and was coordinated by Brigadier General Lindiwe Ngwenya.
Government was represented by the Permanent Secretary for Labour Simon Masanga, Business was represented by EMCOZ Executive Director Nester Mukwehwa and Deputy President Mr F Truworth while labour was represented by Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) Secretary General, Kennias Shamuyarira and ZCTU President, Florence Taruvinga.
The meeting was held under the theme: “Labour and Consumerism in the Current Business Environment; Implications on National Security.
The country’s economy has been on a free-fall over the past few months as the Zimbabwe dollar continued to tumble against the USD.
Last month, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) issued a position paper warning that the foreign exchange instability and run-away inflation, which had seen a spike in commodity prices, threatening the existence of the local currency.
The business body prescribed a host of measures it felt government should take to avert an economic implosion, but their suggestions were shot down by the government, which insisted business was actually sabotaging the economy.
Prices of basic commodities have since sky-rocketed beyond the means of ordinary Zimbabweans and the current transport crisis has worsened the situation for workers, some of who are being forced to walk to work or use precarious forms of transport to get to work.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an umbrella body of various civic organizations in the country, has since called for a mass stay away today (Monday) to protest the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
ZFTU Secretary General, Kennias Shamuyarira, told Review & Mail the TNF partners agreed that the security sector, as part of the arm of government, needed to understand the security implications posed by the current crisis.
“Our position as ZFTU; we made it very clear that the issue of spiral rocketing commodities prices vis-vis purchasing of USD on the parallel market even on official bank rate or even at the Dutch Auction Rate; if it continues to move uncontrolled and not stopped; then workers are going to be the State Enemy Number One because they are pushed too much to a point where they cannot survive in terms of paying for their children’s school fees, medication, food, transport and everything.
“So it was imperative to note that the securocrats, business and labour we are all very essential and critical in the running of the country at the highest governance level and, as such, we must put our heads together and direct all our missiles against those involved in manipulating the system out of greed. We all agreed that the RBZ must be put to order and the Minister of Finance must be put to order because all the things that are happening in as far as the exchange rate is concerned are being done by a monopoly cartel which is controlled by the RBZ and the Minister of Finance,” Shamuyarira said.
Shamuyarira said the resultant economic instability was in turn, giving a lot of hardships, myriad problems to business, to workers and to peasants and everybody else, adding that it should be stopped forthwith.
“If it goes unattended, that is a national security threat because workers, peasants and students are all going to go into the streets and no amount of arrest will deter them; so we told them. And this is also causing the influx of our citizens to SA where they are now being butchered and harassed; which will one day infuriate the Zimbabwean government to retaliate and there will be war between Zimbabwe and South Africa; and that’s another security threat,” he said.
He added that some Zimbabweans were now forced into crossing to Botswana where they were involved in cattle rustling and end up being shot by the Batswana security.
“One day we will retaliate and this will also cause war between Zimbabwe and Botswana. But Botswana and South Africa are not to be blamed. We have to cross check our systems and make sure that we are running our country properly,” he said.
He said the issue of casualization of labour by investors was also discussed at length, noting that concern was raised over investors who were bringing in unskilled employees from their respective countries at a time Zimbabwe was grappling with high levels of unemployment.
“We emphasized that we have a very high unemployment rate which is not premised on under skilled people but highly skilled people who cannot be absorbed in our industry. So what is the reason for the investors to come and establish a mining excavation here and bring their own mining engineers when we have got a lot of them who are selling sweets and maize cobs…will that make these mega deals good in terms of employment creation,? he queried.
Shamuyarira said some of the investors were working with the military, adding there was need to take stock of investments that come into the country and‘re-align’ them.
“There must be a riot act that when you are coming here, we expect you to bring in Capital, to bring in machinery and as far as manpower ; as far as skills; yes there are certain skills that we don’t have, those are the ones that you can bring. Not to bring a person who can fit in a light bulb, who can fit bolts and nuts; we have all those people here and it must be a prerequisite that you are going to employ 70 % of Zimbabweans and then you only have 30 %. These are the things that we were highlighting to them (securocrats),” he said.
He said the TNF partners agreed that the securocrats should urgently discuss the current crisis within their command structure, the Joint Operation Command to get to the bottom of what was causing despondency among organized labour, business and the general populace in order to avert impending political unrest which posed a security threat.
ZCTU Secretary Japhet Moyo, confirmed the meeting saying it was part of a programme being attended by different security arms and others coming from the region and Asian countries.
“The idea was for cadres to appreciate our work as social partners and how it can impact on national security. It was a very interactive session I should say,” he said.
Army spokesperson, Alphios Makotore did not respond to questions sent to him.