A shadowy workers’ union has emerged pitching its narrative around the mass dismissal of workers following a Supreme Court judgment in July 2015 in which MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa was reportedly an instructing advocate.
The Zimbabwe Workers for Justice said it had been saddened by “short memories” exhibited by Zimbabweans in general given Chamisa’s role in what it characterised as a disgraceful event in the history of the working class in the country.
“In recent weeks many of us have been shocked and saddened by the short memories of many Zimbabweans. Back in 2015, there was a court case that changed the face of Zimbabwe; it changed the fate of Zimbabwe. It pitched the strong against the weak, the rich against the poor (and) big business against the worker.
“The Supreme Court case set a crisis in the Zimbabwean worker which led to around 30 000 workers losing their jobs, losing their livelihoods,” the group’s spokesperson Alex Gakanje said in a statement yesterday.
“Fathers could no longer support their families, young workers had their careers cut short, their hope and future torn out at the roots before they could even have a chance to grow.”
In July 2015, the full bench of the Supreme Court then led by the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku ruled against former Zuva Petroleum managers who had challenged their dismissal on three months’ notice. The court ruled that all parties to a contract had same rights to walk away from it on notice, triggering a massive job cull.
However, in August last year the Labour Court ruled that the fired workers were entitled to reinstatement or payment of damages adding the dismissals had been unlawful.
“There was a young aspiring advocate who proudly took the despicable glory for this victory of injustice. The same Nelson Chamisa who today is the leader of the MDC-T party that emerged out of the trade union movement, a pro-worker-party. The same Nelson Chamisa who claims to represent the workers and downtrodden, the poor and the suffering,” said Gakanje. “Before we choose our president people have a right to know their candidates.”
Asked why his union had not mentioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa who reportedly has interests in Zuva Petroleum or the companies that fired workers indiscriminately, Gakanje was evasive. “Our mandate is to represent workers. We want to start where it all began and that is in July 2015. We are not worried about who owns what shares in which company. We represent the workers and seek justice.
“He (Chamisa) is claiming he will create employment. Chamisa has done an excellent job in making people forget his role in this disgraceful event. He has sought to re-write history and eradicate his role in this sorry episode,” the union said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in the aftermath of the ruling demanded Chamisa’s resignation from the MDC-T.