Zimbabwe – it’s not all about who gets which Ministry
A lot of the coverage of Zimbabwe in the news deals with two issues – how ghastly life in Zimbabwe is (eg the latest outbreak of cholera); and how Mugabe and Tsvangirai are squabbling over which Ministry their parties get. These are not unimportant issues (the main argument between ZANU-PF and the MDC is over who controls the police, which is pretty important given their role in beating people up!) But there’s another side to Zimbabwe – the union side.
This Wednesday, 3 December, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is calling on people in Zimbabwe to go ask their bank for their money back. It’s not a revolutionary demand (although it could be described as promoting a Northern Rock style run on the banks): the point is this. In Zimbabwe, ordinary people are allowed to take out just Zim$500,000 a day, which sounds like a lot until you convert it – it’s £5.36 at the moment, but prices are doubling every 1.3 days, so it won’t be worth that for long. The ZCTU is demanding that people be allowed to take out enough to actually buy the essentials – food, medicines, that sort of thing – or that employers should be allowed to pay staff in cash.
This is a basic trade union demand, and it shows that trade unions, as well as being involved in the politics of Zimbabwe (the ZCTU warned weeks ago that the power-sharing deal was a sham, and they seem, sadly, to have been right), are still standing up for ordinary working people’s basic economic needs.
If you want to support their action, campaign group Action on Southern Africa (ACTSA), have an email action on their website, so you can contact the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, to ask him to do what the ZCTU is asking.