Magazine article New African

Lovemore Mushonga: Trade Union Affiliates Support Price War

Magazine article New African

Lovemore Mushonga: Trade Union Affiliates Support Price War

Article excerpt

The government directive for businesses to reduce prices to 18 June levels has been hailed by Zimbabweans across the political divide. Surprisingly, it has been condemned by the Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU) whose leadership has even threatened to call for mass action. But they have come under fire from a group within the ZCTU ranks, calling itself the "Concerned ZCTU Affiliates", made up of the Commercial Workers' Union of Zimbabwe, Leather and Shoe Workers' Union, Associated Mine Workers' Union, Transport and General Workers' Union, and the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Workers' Union. Caesar Zvayi went to interview their spokesman, Lovemore Mushonga (pictured).


Caesar Zvayi: As a trade unionist, how did you receive the ongoing price war launched by the government?

Lovemore Mushonga: This is a welcome development as the government has moved in to protect workers who had been held to ransom by the business community, while their representatives in the ZCTU pursued politics. As a trade union movement, we welcome the move. The majority of our members could no longer afford to look after their families even though they go to work every day. Many more could not afford to work and voluntarily resigned from their workplaces because of the high cost of living. So the price war came at the right time.


Caesar: Your partners in the ZCTU have condemned the price war saying it can lead to shortages, factory closures, and job cuts. How do you respond?

Mushonga: This clearly exposes their confusion. As I have said before, the current ZCTU leadership no longer has the interests of workers at heart. How would they expect workers to continue working for nothing when they could not afford to buy the goods in the shops or even the transport fare to work? The ZCTU leaders seem to be living a life separate from that of ordinary workers. If they faced the same hardships, they would not say what they are saying.

Caesar: The ZCTU has threatened to call for mass action to protest against the price war, how do you, as the "Concerned ZCTU Affiliates" view the ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe's call for protests against the government?

Mushonga: We strongly urge workers to totally ignore the call for mass action by Wellington Chibebe. In fact, we urge the government to move in to ensure that producers continue to produce goods so that shops do not become or remain empty. The three social partners--government, business and labour--should come together again as a matter of urgency and pursue the implementation of the three protocols of the Social Contract that were signed 1 June 2007. Business and the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation should also quickly work on the pricing models to stop profiteering in future.


Caesar: The response by sections of the business community has been to remove goods from shop shelves. What do you think should be done to ensure that consumers are not held to ransom through artificial shortages?

Mushonga: Producers should stick to their core business without resorting to dirty tricks. They must know that they are in business to produce goods or provide services. Shop owners should also know that the government is serious. Those who do not want to trade will only have themselves to blame. It's pointless for shop owners to remove goods from the shelves to create artificial shortages, because they will lose out in the end. …

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