Zimbabweans enduring slavery

Ngwindi Ngwindi

When citizens start comparisons and wishing for the past against the present, then surely something is amiss and requires attention with uncompromised urgency.

Citizens must be forgiven for thinking and talking better about the past when life was much better as compared to what we are enduring right now. Why does the government insist on usage of local currency which they are not able to stabilize?

So far what we get are promises that measures are being put in place to give buying power to what they call local currency. Temporary measures are far from the wishes and desires of Zimbabweans; we yearn for lasting solutions.

From a layman’s point of view, the local currency can only stabilize in an economy with industry which is functioning on regulated corporate ethics and conducive operational environment, which the government must create and implement. As things stand, there does not appear to be monitoring and enforcement of corporate practices in the industry as evidenced by the way they are operating and the way they are treating the workforce.

A few weeks ago it was reported that manufacturers were rejecting RTGS payments for their products: there is indeed absolute justification to that because retailers are selling goods in foreign currency, which is the US dollar in many cases.

The burden therefore rests on the shoulder of the end user, the consumer who also is the worker who gets paid in RTGS form by the employers who are rejecting the same currency which they pay their workers as salary. Question now comes on where the employer is getting RTGS from which he is paying the worker when his product is sold in foreign currency? Answer to this is clear; they acquire RTGS from the highest bidder on their greenbacks, who obviously is not the formal financial institutions, but the parallel market paddlers.

This raises the aspect of modern day slavery in Zimbabwe. Citizens will be left with no option but to discredit government’s global engagement preferences, especially the look east policy which has brought in ‘slave master’ elements among the current calibre of investors.

The ‘slave masters’ are operating outside corporate ethics taking advantage of the country’s bad economic management. Working conditions in the industry are unbearable for the worker. There is no job security at all in the industry as employees are always threatened with expulsion and easy replacement whenever they raise their grievances, and even beaten in some cases.

The government needs to enforce laws which protect its citizens from being abused by mostly foreign companies which are operating in the country.

Trade unionists must rise to the occasion, as the situation is getting out of hand due to vulnerability of citizens who are known to have no alternative employment but stay where they are being abused. It must thus come a time to name and shame companies which are abusing Zimbabweans.

They are not fit to operate in the country. We know that there are workers who are bleeding internally out of fear of victimization and lack of knowledge of where to offload their grievances.

All companies which operate in the country must be guided by policy frameworks which promote conducive working relationship between the employer and the employee. What we are witnessing in Zimbabwe is absolute lack of adherence to the ethics of labour relations. Here I am referring to the private sector players some of whose existence is guaranteed by high political offices, hence they have guts to exploit workers willy-nilly

Underhand dealings which transact in the procedure of granting investment rights to foreign companies in Zimbabwe, also contribute majorly in giving them an upper hand over the authorities and the workers. They can easily manipulate the system and operate whichever way that pleases their insatiable appetite to oppress locals and exploit the situation for profiteering.

The kind of treatment which Zimbabweans are subjected to has forced millions out of the country seeking greener pastures.

There they face more evil at the hands of unruly elements in host nations who unleash terror upon fellow Africans. There is no difference between the unfortunate expression of disgruntlement by Limpopo province’s Phophi Ramathuba and the insults we get from foreign employers in Zimbabwe industries.

Their message is clear and the same. The predicament of the sick woman who unfortunately took punches on behalf of our government from Ramathuba and that of the worker in Zimbabwe is the same. We are repeatedly told that we should be grateful and content with meagre RTGS salaries we get because they have done us a favour by bringing investment to Zimbabwe. Favour! Is it really favour or just some opportunity to exploit our resources and our people?

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