AFRICA – ZIMBABWE: Solidarity Visit


AFRICA – ZIMBABWE: Solidarity Visit

IFWEA’s Programme Manager Saliem Patel, along with Olof Palme International Center Intern Tajma Sisic visited Zimbabwe, to engage with new affiliate Patsime Trust, and associates including the Commercial Workers Union of Zimbabwe (CWUZ), Ishmael Nedziwe College of Labour Studies, Labour & Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ),  Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) and the Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU).

You can watch the interviews on You Tube on the IFWEA channel here


IFWEA Interviews Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ)’s Prosper Chitambara

My name is Prosper Chitambara. I work for an organisation called the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe where I’m a senior research economist. Essentially we are the research think tank for the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions. We do research and analysis, we do education and training, we also do advocacy and lobby.

 

How would you describe the political situation for workers in Zimbabwe?

We have a new constitution that was promulgated in 2013, which is an expanded Bill of Rights that even includes economic, social and cultural rights. So on paper yes the rights are guaranteed and protected within the Constitution, but in practice I think there’s still a lot of problems. We have witnessed victimisation of workers, of trade unionists so I think there’s a lot of challenges with respect to implementing the new Constitution, so that at least those rights that are enshrined are actually protected particularly.

 

How does your education activities affect awareness and choices of grassroots leaders?

Essentially, look for example the recent education that have been doing is on economic, social and cultural rights. The idea also is to improve the civic engagement of not just trade unionists, because we are focusing on workers, we are focusing on those in the informal economy, we are also focusing on other civil servants’ constituency. So the idea is to build their capacity to be able even to demand for these basic social and cultural rights. So we are improving their civic literacy so to speak so they are able to engage with policy makers at whatever level.

 

What do participants enjoy or expect to get from participating in your education activities?

There a number of things that they enjoy and they also come with a lot of expectations, but essentially they want to do is to be to be empowered. To be empowered to be able to be active citizens, to be empowered to be able to be better trade union leaders, better trade union activists. So they really come with so many expectations and we try to meet some of those expectations.


IFWEA’s Tajma Sisic interviews Patsime Trust’s Elscent Tairowodza (ET) and Nqobizitha Nyakunu (NN)

ET: Our organisation is a theatre based organization, focusing on theatre for development. Looking at sexual reproductive health rights issues across workspaces, schools – primary and high schools – as well as within the community as a consultant using arts.

 

NK: Why use theatre? Theatre mostly we, we taking advantage of the entertainment. When you entertain someone with a little information they learn from the entertainment, so this is a critical skill that we use so that in the engagement with people it’s not only passive, but people also learn as they enjoy.

 

ET: Well in regard to that I’m the programmes manager, I manage a portfolio of projects throughout Patsime.

 

NK: I’m a graduate intern and we do the fieldwork and we are people enjoying the arts.

 

How would you describe the political situation for workers in Zimbabwe?

ET: The challenges that they face vary from organisation to organization, and largely in an environment that is has economic challenges with it, you find issues to do with access to money, access to salaries, hygiene issues, environmental issues, sanitation, access to water within the work spaces. We looking at financial wellness, we looking at also physical fitness and wellness, knowledge around NCD’s. So these are the gaps within the work spaces, largely they are production orientated rather than employee wellness orientated. So you find out that the challenges really interface with human rights per se, to say access to sanitation there is no water and it’s a right for a human being or an employee to have access water. So how they relate to that and how they solve them – they have workplace wellness committees, some and some form groups that advocate and lobby for such issues to be addressed within the workspaces. Other than that some do initiatives, some do newsletters to speak to their management to speak through their HR, but it’s still a long way coming we haven’t found a proper solution to really address it but we do hope that these initiatives and engagements will probe that dialogue and that vision for addressing such issues.

 

How does your education activities affect awareness and choices of grassroots leaders?

NK: Clearly when you try to make entertainment with much information within it it’s easier now to tell people and to teach people. However, how we engage with these people is when we make our researches we find out the problems. We adapt those problems into the plays that we have and then we go perform them in the workplace. Then after performing, how we make sure that information has gotten to the people is – we use what we have like role plays, we have cross performance discussions and we also leave written material so that they also support the information that we have. We also make follow up calls or emails to see if there any cases that have risen from the discussions, if they have been solved or if they need any other assistance. We work with other unions, we work with other companies too that provide services, and also helping in creating policies around the situations within the workplace.

 

What do participants enjoy or expect to get from participating in your education activities?

ET: Basically being in the Zimbabwean context they expect information. When you bringing information that means you are solving part of a problem. When you solve that part of a problem you supposed to provide a referral path way system for them, that means access to service providers if it’s getting voluntary counselling and testing they need to know where to get, it how it’s done, how long it will take, confidentiality issues. If it’s on NCD’s, if it’s on financial advice how to handle their money – so they expect that from us – that we provide that information and that linkage.

 

NK: Above their expectations now what they enjoy is fun, you know literally…

 

ET: The characters…

 

NK: You have thematic focusses on serious issues however you have to throw in some metaphors, some  jokes, some skits, some music, you know get people into the situation, however to solve it. You know there’s no fun in trying to solve the situation when you all crying but if you laugh a bit it’s not only passive, but also it provides that kind of scare away, you comfortable enough to do that. So it is fun you know have someone act for you, you’ve been a celebrity, you take pictures, that’s the fun they have.

 


IFWEA interviews Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations’ (ZCIEA) Secretary General Whisper Maraia (WM) and National Chairperson of Women’s Structure Charlotte Mandishona

 

How would you describe the political situation for workers in Zimbabwe?

WM: The political situation in our country of late has not been very favorable for workers on rights to protest, or rights to organise in the sense that wherever workers have gathered to fight for their rights, it has been taken as if it’s a counter against the government. So this has made the operational environment a bit tense where protests are no longer easily allowed by the government of the day. For the workers to protest it will be taken as if it is an anti-government approach, or a support to the opposition movement. So this is how the situation has been of late.

 

How do your education activities affect the awareness and choices of grassroots leaders?

CM: The education programmes we’ve been doing in ZCIEA regarding to the rights of our members has had quite a significant impact on them, in that now they can negotiate on their own behalf or for their issues which are worrying them. They can also face councils, they can also do research at their workplaces.

 

What do participants enjoy or expect to get from participating in your education activities?

CM: Most participants, when they come for the trainings they are expecting to be capacitated, also to know more about the laws, about the topic which will be taught at that particular time. And also to be more informed because most of them, they don’t have TV but when they come now for a workshop or training, that’s where they get more information.

 

WM: Our members, they’ve enjoyed the participatory approach which we offer in our educational programmes. Whereby normally we give examples which are practical, which speaks to their day to day life. Because there are, mainly if you see the basic education we are offering, its education which is speaking to them, issues they are facing day to day. So that has really enabled our educational programmes to be more productive for them, where some even benefit and start to participate even in their local authorities meetings and give information because they have been educated members.

 

 


IFWEA interviews Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU)’s General Secretary Hilarious Ruyi and Assistant General Secretary Toindepi Dhure

 

How would you describe the political situation for workers in Zimbabwe?

HR: Domestic workers in Zimbabwe are not covered by any social protection, they excluded we have got an authority which is called NASA which covers other employees but domestic workers are not covered.

 

How does your education activities affect awareness and choices of grassroots leaders?

 

TD: First and foremost you will realize that domestic workers are employed in isolated areas, one employee and one employer, so the education programme allows them to come together. It also allows them to create some free time. It provides a platform where they can share their experiences, their fears their hopes and identify areas of common interests. So that when they make demands, these demands are no longer made in isolated circumstances. They are able to say ahh this situation affects us all as domestic workers. Also, they relate their situation with other workers in the other in other biased sectors.

 

What do participants enjoy or expect to get from participating in your education activities?

TD: When our members come to these education programmes they expect to get answers to their problems, and their problems are so many… They relate to their working conditions, their living conditions, their economic conditions, their social lives, so they expect to get answers and assistance to solve these problems that affect them.

 

What do they enjoy?

NS: They enjoy to know about their wages! Whenever we conduct a workshop they want to know about their working conditions, that is their agreed pay, their off days, whatever – then also they would also like to know their rights as domestic workers.

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