unemployment in south africaMay Day Celebrated Throughout Africa ??Workers want jobs, better wages and genuine independence

International workers day, May Day, was commemorated in various states throughout the African continent. In Zimbabwe, Morocco, South Africa and Somalia, workers sought to express their desire for better working conditions, full-employment and political independence.


In Zimbabwe the focus of the most militant workers? demonstrations drew a direct line between the ongoing imposition of economic sanctions by the imperialist countries against this Southern African state and the struggles of trade unions. The Zimbabwe Herald noted that ?WORKERS marking Workers Day at different venues yesterday castigated the West?s illegal economic sanctions regime which they blamed for the closure of companies and job losses countrywide.? (May 2)

Nonetheless, there were at least two other trade union federations that are independent of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriot Front party or are aligned with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai and other MDC factions that held May Day rallies as well. The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) did not hold a rally but issued a statement in honor of May Day.

Two different factions of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) held separate rallies in the capital of Harare. One gathering took place at the Gwanzura Stadium and the other at the Raylton Sports Club.

The faction which met at the Raylton Sports Club was represented by ZCTU Secretary-General Raymond Majonwe who said that the economy had been seriously impacted by western sanctions. However, when asked why hadn?t his faction of the labor federation spoken out forcefully on the sanctions issue he was quoted as saying ?I did not invite them. I am fighting for salaries in line with the Poverty Datum Line.?

At the Gwanzura Stadium where the other ZCTU faction rally was held, the speakers castigated the leadership for not speaking out against sanctions which have rendered thousands of workers unemployed. One worker from the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers Union indicated to the Herald newspaper that the leadership should have explained why there was joblessness inside the country.

He went on to point out that ?They deliberately ignored that. They should face the reality that sanctions are the reason why industries are not performing. It is clear that industries in Bulawayo closed because of sanctions. It is a fact that Ziscosteel was brought to its knees by the sanctions. The closure of those companies resulted in several people being left jobless. We expected our leaders to talk against these sanctions, but instead they are busy campaigning for some political parties when they are supposed to talk about issues that are affecting workers.?

The Zimbabwe Industrial Revolutionary Workers Federation held a gathering at the Mbare Netball Complex where Secretary-General Pascoe EkemuChakanetsa spoke in support the policies of ZANU-PF. Pascoe stressed that the government policy of indigenization and empowerment was a proper response to the illegal sanctions.

?Workers should benefit from the empowerment policies,? said MrChakanetsa. ?We are fully supportive of the Zanu-PF policies to empower the people and to indigenize the economy.?

In neighboring South Africa there were also various workers? rallies in honor of May Day. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), an ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), held gatherings at various locations throughout the country. At the Sharpeville rally, representatives of the ANC criticized the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, for attempting to misrepresent the historical struggle against white-minority rule which was overthrown in 1994.

South African Minister of Police NathiMthethwa said the DA was in actuality part of the former apartheid system and was now attempting to remake its image. “The DA wants to label itself as the spokesperson of our people. The party is actually synonymous with the oppression that our people suffered.”(Mail & Guardian, May 1)

The Secretary-General of the South African Communist Party (SACP) Blade Nzimande called upon workers to defend the tripartite alliance between his organization, COSATU and the ruling ANC. “Stand and defend the unity of Cosatu and [the] effort to drive Cosatu out of the [tripartite] alliance,” he said at a rally in Kimberley.

In Morocco, May Day events were marked by sharp debates around the role of the ruling Islamic Party of Justice and Development (PJD) and the Monarchy. Some workers chanted for the downfall of the government and later scuffles erupted near the parliament building as thousands carried both national and Berber flags.

One union that is affiliated with the PJD even called for the continued control of Morocco over the Western Sahara, labeled by many as the last remaining colony on the continent. Others condemned the government and said that it had failed to uphold its campaign promises of creating jobs and income for the many unemployed in this North African state.

Mohammed Abdelmoneim, 27, who has been unemployed since graduating from college last year, said that ?When the PJD came to power they said they?d find a solution to the job crisis. But they?ve done nothing to help us.? (AFP, May 1)

In the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia, the security forces in the capital of Mogadishu blocked roads preventing people from going into the streets to commemorate May Day. These police actions were carried out under the guise of preventing possible bomb attacks which have been occurring with renewed frequency in the last several months. (RBC Radio, May 1)

The interior ministry said that the enhanced security measures were taken in response to a purported threat from the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement which is opposing the United States supported government now in power in Mogadishu. The government is backed up by 17,500 troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that is financed and trained by the U.S., other western states and the United Nations.

These threats were supposedly designed to avenge the death of Al-Shabaab leader AdanHashiEyrow who was killed by a Pentagon airstrike on May 1, 2008. Despite the claims that the situation in Somalia is stabilizing, there is still ongoing conflict in the country.

An attack aimed at a convoy of Qatari diplomats on May 5 resulted in the deaths of numerous people in the capital. The UN has just extended its mandate in Somalia due to the continuing instability in the country.

Source:?AbayomiAzikiwe (Editor, Pan-African News Wire)


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