• Uncategorized
  • News
  • News from ACTSA
  • Features
  • Latest posts

  • What we write about

  • Archived posts

  • Morgan Tsvangirai remembered: brave, heroic, flawed

    By Tony | February 16, 2018

    Morgan Tsvangirai was brave, to many heroic, and a great human rights defender, he also had flaws.

    Morgan Tsvangirai was a miner who became a trade union leader who challenged the economic policies of Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF in the mid-1990s. The economic policies he challenged was the economic structural adjustment programme pushed on Zimbabwe by the IMF which was causing increasing hardship, reducing employment, weakening public services. Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition to these policies led him to become increasingly critical of the authoritarian rule of Robert Mugabe who made no secret of his wish for Zimbabwe to be a one party state and for the president to have greater powers. Tsvangirai became a leader of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) a civil society body comprising trade unions, churches and ngos which argued for a more citizens rights based constitution and against proposals for a more centralised and controlling state. Out of the NCA a new political party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) emerged and Morgan Tsvangirai became its life-long leader.

    Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC was the biggest political challenge Mugabe and Zanu PF had faced since independence in 1980. Tsvangirai was badly beaten, arrested, harassed, and attempts were made on his life. He remained steadfast in his support for human rights, a more inclusive, open, fairer Zimbabwe. He was almost certainly deprived of being President of Zimbabwe by electoral fraud, if not in 2002 then in 2008.

    The first round of the 2008 presidential election showed he had a commanding, many thought decisive lead but the announcement of the result was mysteriously delayed for over a week. It was eventually announced Tsvangirai had 48% and Mugabe 43% meaning there would have to be a run-off. Zimbabwe then experienced its worst violence since the massacres in the mid-1980s. The MDC was not allowed to organise or campaign, there were killings, disappearances, arrests and harassment. Tsvangirai felt he had no option but to withdraw leaving Mugabe as the sole candidate.

    Regional mediation by Thabo Mbeki, then president of South Africa, led to the formation of an inclusive government in 2009 with Tsvangirai as Prime Minister and Mugabe as President. Zanu PF used the period 2008-2013 to regroup, re-organise and in government Tsvangirai and other MDC ministers found the institutions of the state were so politicised in support of Zanu PF they lacked real power.

    In 2006 MDC witnessed its first major split. Many blamed Tsvangirai for this saying he initially showed no leadership on a key issue and it was only when the MDC conference decided its position did he come out against and say he would not accept it. He took a majority of members with him and hence the MDC he led became MDC T (the T is for Tsvangirai). Without that split a united MDC may have won the 2008 election so decisively it could not have been stolen from it.  After the MDC lost quite heavily in 2013 Tsvangirai would not countenance stepping aside and further splits occurred. The opposition to Zanu PF became more fragmented and its main challenge became its internal politics.

    In the past year however the three main MDC groupings signed a unity pact and agreed Tsvangirai would be their candidate for President. It was clear though that he was seriously ill. He had cancer but claimed his treatment was working. He was convinced he was the only one who could defeat Mugabe and even after Mugabe was forced from office Tsvangirai thought he was the only one who stood a chance of winning against Zanu PF. He had charismatic appeal especially to youth in urban areas. They admired his bravery, his courage, his willingness to take on Mugabe. In his last few months he would not allow the MDC to discuss and agree on a successor. There is a real risk that the MDC (T) will split into competing factions.

    Morgan Tsvangirai will be remembered, celebrated, for his leadership on human rights, against corrupt and authoritarian rule, for a more inclusive Zimbabwe. There will though also be questions about his leadership style and the unanswerable what if, the MDC had not split? The elections had not been rigged?

    Morgan Tsvangirai changed Zimbabwe. He changed its politics. He refused to accept authoritarian rule. He gave Zimbabweans hope and courage.

    Morgan Tsvangirai born 10 March 1952 died 14 February 2018.

    Topics: Features, News | No Comments »

    ACTSA letters on Zimbabwe in the Guardian & Financial Times

    By ACTSA | November 29, 2017

    ACTSA has had two letters on Zimbabwe published. The first, in the Guardian, relates to the political situation in the country. The second, in the Financial Times, relates to the economic situation in the country.

    Topics: News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    TUC Aid appeal for Zimbabwe

    By ACTSA | November 22, 2017

    In light of recent events in Zimbabwe, TUC Aid, a charity founded by the Trades Union Congress, has launched an appeal to support the work of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The appeal can be accessed here.

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    Zimbabwe:Congress of Trade Unions Statement on current situation

    By Tony | November 21, 2017

    Zimbabwe: the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions issued a statement on 18 November in response to recent developments in the country. They call for an inclusive transitional authority with a defined time frame, a restoration of basic socio- economic rights including education and health for all, reliable and affordable transport, decent housing jobs  and the restoration of lost freedoms.  The full statement is below.


    We, the General Council of the ZCTU, meeting in Harare on the 18th of November 2017 to review the political developments in Zimbabwe hereby state our position:


    We firstly wish to acknowledges the definitive push by the heroes of our time, the war veterans and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces led by General Constantino Guvheya  Chiwenga. On behalf of the workers of Zimbabwe we wish to express our gratitude for the bravery and decisive move they took to liberate citizens from captivity and despicable oppression. In this regard we warn anyone who believe that they can forcefully reverse this by threatening our defence forces that, apart from its unparalleled strength in Africa, we all stand in solidarity with the ZDF to defend our nation from any intrusion. We however welcome regional and international assistance based on this demonstrated irreversible desire of Zimbabweans for change.

    As workers of Zimbabwe under the ZCTU, we buttress the voices of the pioneer trade unionists who fought for the prosperity of workers and all citizens which could only be achieved through the liberation of our country from oppressive, discriminatory and repressive regimes. It is the voices of Benjamin Burombo, Charles Kadhali and others, the early trade unionists, and our heroes. These leaders fought day and night for social, economic and political rights of the workers and citizens under difficult oppressive Rhodesian employers and government.

    The ZCTU appreciates the role and heroic sacrifices of these men and women who led to the formation of liberation war movements fronted by trade union veterans Joshua Nkomo, James Chikerema, and others  who yearned and fought for a free Zimbabwe where everyone was meant to be equal, prosperous and free to choose and express their political choices. Their vision and desires continue to guide and direct us as workers of Zimbabwe.

    Political developments in the past few days marks the beginning of the much desired second liberation from tyrannical and inconsiderate rule by the post independent leaders who presided over untold suffering of workers and citizens. The ZCTU through the able leadership of Gibson Sibanda, Morgan Tsvangirai and others saw the early signs of a dictatorship and fought against a one party state that would have introduced a monarchy in the early years of independence. They fought against Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), corruption, greed and gave early warning signs that the freedom train had derailed and needed to be redirected. Unfortunately, no one took heed of the ZCTU which was declared an enemy of the state. The struggle for workers’ freedom continued through the leadership of Lovemore Matombo, Wellington Chibebe and other comrades. The message from workers was clear,  that the state has been captured by individuals and corporate corrupt interests. They pointed out that the Presidency had become a danger to the achievement of the liberation struggle aspirations.

    Today the results are clear. One of the richest endowed nation in the world has the highest unemployment, poverty and obscene inequality. Those who work day and night wallow in poverty while those who do nothing live in unbridled opulence. Without shame they looted the resources of the nation and parade their ill-gotten wealthy in a country where the majority are failing to buy a pain killer and living on a single meal a day. Workers are working without pay and all the protective labour laws are gone.

    We therefore entertain a ray of hope today when we see Zimbabweans putting aside their petty differences and focusing on rebuilding the ruins left after many years of destruction. We are taking this process seriously and workers of Zimbabwe (including those from Informal Economy) are not going to allow to be under the yoke of bondage again.

    Therefore the ZCTU demands:

    1.         Inclusive Transitional Authority with a defined timeframe

    2.         Time for truth and justice

    3.         Reform of State Institutions

    4.         A new sense of belonging to all citizens based on the principle of


    5.         An end to neoliberal narrative based on oppression of workers

    through dangerous and imposed concepts such as Labour market flexibility, austerity and ill-informed Economic Structural Adjustment programs and the enrichment of a few individuals and corporates at the expense of the toiling masses.

    6.         A quick restoration of our basic socioeconomic rights among them:

    .           Education and Heath for all

    .           Reliable and affordable public transport.

    .           Decent housing for all

    .           Decent jobs and decent wages

    7.         A responsive, open and accountable government

    8.         Restoration of all the lost freedoms and a return to


    9.         Above all , we have started as a collective and inclusive people,

    the way forward for our dear country must be decided by the collective.

    These are part of the key result indicators we shall measure leaders. Anyone who does not commit to this should not accept any state position. On our part we commit to put our all in the reconstruction of our dear nation Zimbabwe.

    To every season, there is a time for everything. We fought and hated each other. We damaged our relationship so deeply over the years. This is the time for truth and reconciliation to heal the wounds. Let us seriously talk about it and embrace each other for justice and progress sake.

    God bless Zimbabwe. God bless Africa


    Information Department

    Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) 2nd Floor Gorlon House

    7 Jason Moyo Street

    Harare, Zimbabwe

    Box 3549



    Topics: News | No Comments »

    Zimbabwe: Coup, Uphold Rights, Improve the economy

    By Tony | November 16, 2017

    What has happened in Zimbabwe is a coup. It may turn out to be a coup many welcome as the least worst option but it is nevertheless is a coup. The perpetrators have stated it is not a coup but it looks, feels and sounds like a coup. The military have acted in their view to protect and preserve public order but that is the reason perpetrators of coups give for their intervention. The trigger seems to have been the statement by Zanu PF that the head of the army General Constantino Chiwenga’s comments following the dismissal by President Mugabe of his Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa were tantamount to treason. The army seems to have acted in a form of preventative action to stop Chiwenga being dismissed. The army says the president and his family are safe and being protected. This raises the question protected from who? His own family? The so-called criminal elements around him? The security service?

    Why are the perpetrators desperate for this not to be seen as a coup? Because if it is a coup then Zimbabwe should automatically be suspended from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and SADC would be challenged to intervene to uphold the constitution. SADC is desperate not to intervene in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe military equally don’t want external involvement, and wish to be seen as in some way upholding the constitutional proprieties.

    Some say it is not a coup as Mugabe remains Head of State, that it is more about internal infighting in Zanu PF. The military action is certainly intended to influence and decide the leadership of Zanu PF but first this will involve Mugabe rescinding his decision to dismiss Emerson Mnangagwa as vice president of the country and reinstating him.

    If the coup succeeds – and it seems to have met limited opposition in the country and internationally, concern has been expressed but it has not been condemned – then the expectation is that Emerson Mnangagwa will resume as vice president of the country. He would then be in effect in charge of government and Robert Mugabe may, after a short time, resign allowing the vice president to take over.

    Prior to the coup Zanu PF was due to hold a congress in December. Until the coup it was expected this would remove Mnangagwa as vice president of the party and elect Grace Mugabe to that position. It is unclear if the congress will go ahead and if it does, and the coup has succeeded then Robert Mugabe may “retire” leaving Mnangagwa to be elected as president of the party.

    Zimbabwe is due to hold national elections for parliament and president in 2018. If it does not then it will be in breach of its constitution. Given the turmoil in Zimbabwe some are calling for a government of national unity or transitional government for several years.

    While many well welcome the demise of Mugabe, if Zimbabwe continues to be ruled in an authoritarian manner in which the institutions of the state are used to serve and promote one party, Zanu PF, then the suffering of the Zimbabwean people is likely to continue. Ordinary Zimbabweans are and have been suffering in part because the ruling party has been unable to deal with the succession to Mugabe and military leaders have been unwilling to countenance any party other than Zanu PF running Zimbabwe.

    In the immediate aftermath of the coup human rights and essential freedoms need to be protected. Zimbabwe may need a period of a national unity government based on respect for human rights and the rule of law. During this period getting the economy working to create decent jobs should be of great importance, but ultimately the priority must be for the Zimbabwean people to determine their own future government through free, fair, peaceful and democratic elections.

    Disclaimer: This is a blog and does not necessarily represent any agreed view by ACTSA.

    Topics: Features, News | No Comments »

    Joint Civil Society Statement on Zimbabwe

    By ACTSA | November 16, 2017

    Yesterday a number of Zimbabwean civil society organisations issued the attached statement on recent developments in Zimbabwe. The statement, signed by 115 civil society organisations, calls for ’ the peaceful and constitutional resolution of the situation and the immediate return of Constitutional order and democracy in Zimbabwe’.

    Read the full statement here:  Joint CSOs Statement on Zimbabwe

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    International Women’s Day: Message from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Womens Committee

    By ACTSA | March 9, 2017

    The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Women’s Committee marked Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    International Women’s Day: Support the women of Southern Africa

    By ACTSA | March 7, 2017

    The theme for International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March is #BeBoldforChange.

    ACTSA believes that gender equality and  Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    EU marks President Mugabe’s 93rd birthday with renewed measures

    By ACTSA | February 23, 2017

    The European Union decided on 17 February several days before President Mugabe’s Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    Zimbabwe Update: Opposition supporters under attack, how the hunger crisis is affecting Zimbabwe’s children and much more

    By ACTSA | November 1, 2016

    This edition of the Zimbabwe Update looks at opposition supporters under attack Read the rest of this entry »

    Topics: News, News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    « Previous Entries