- Unions Claim Govt Looking to Grab Public Service Medical Aid Scheme
- Parly - Minister Claims Only a Few Nurses On Strike - MP Ordered to Withdraw Cheeky Question About VP Whereabouts 'As Country Burns'
- Russia: BRICS Partnership Aims for Multipolar World
Unions Claim Govt Looking to Grab Public Service Medical Aid Scheme
23 June 2022
Plans by the Public Service Commission (PSC)'s to take over Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) are at an advanced stage, union leaders have claimed.
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPTSU) secretary general, David Dzatsunga, revealed the development during the ongoing strike by health workers over poor salaries and harsh working conditions.
ZCPTSU is an umbrella body for civil service unions.
"There is also another issue which has come up. The government wants to grab PSMAS, our own project, which we started as workers.
"Where will we get treatment if they take it away," said Dzatsunga.
PSMAS is a mutual society owned by its members drawn from the public, informal and private sectors.
Employees in these various sectors of the economy have varying internal arrangements with their employees on payments of medical aid subscriptions.
"PSMAS is going to have its AGM on the 30th of this month, so we must go there and stop them from doing that. We should demonstrate just as we are doing here," said Dzatsunga.
He insisted that all public sector workers should keep rejecting the 100 percent salary increment offer.
"We have no other option because we can't operate at the poverty datum line. We are professionals.
"So we no longer want US$540 we initially requested but US$840," he said.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) head, Enock Dongo, said they were summoned by the Health Services Board (HSB) on Monday after 14 months of being ignored.
"There was nothing on the table for us as health workers, that's why we are here today to give a feedback.
"We are disturbed because we have written about seven letters to them in the past 14 months and they were not paying attention."
Asked about the current situation inside the hospitals, Dongo said it was disturbing.
"This is a pathetic scenario, where we have most of the health workers outside the hospital and what it means is there is disaster in there.
"It means that patients are stranded in the hospital. They cannot get the services they require," he said.
Parly - Minister Claims Only a Few Nurses On Strike - MP Ordered to Withdraw Cheeky Question About VP Whereabouts 'As Country Burns'
23 June 2022
LEADER of government business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi claimed Wednesday that only a few doctors and nurses were on strike as he reiterated the administration's refusal to pay salaries in foreign currency.
Public health workers have been on strike since Monday, demanding - among other things - that their salaries should be paid United States dollars.
The job action was brought up in Parliament by legislators who demanded to know what government was doing to end the strike.
Said opposition MP Sipho Mokone; "Minister, on Monday we saw the nurses and doctors downing tools, which means that no one can access healthcare right now in Government hospitals.
"The situation is very bad, especially for the expectant mother because there is no one who is there to assist the woman when she is due to give birth."
Opposition colleague Murisi Zwizwai interjected asking about the whereabouts of Vice President and health minister Constantino Chiwenga who has not been heard from since the strike started.
Speaker Jacob Mudenda immediately ordered Zwizwai to withdraw the statement to which the MP responded;
"Yes Mr. Speaker Sir, I withdraw the statement that I had stated and queried where the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon. Chiwenga and his wife are when the country is on fire. I withdraw, Sir."
Meanwhile Ziyambi denied claims by legislators that the strike had crippled the country's healthcare sector, saying only a few nurses and doctors had joined the job action.
"It is not very correct that the majority of them were on strike, it is only a few who were on strike yesterday or the day before and they have been advised that negotiations for a salary increase are ongoing and they must go back to their stations."
Ziyambi also categorically ruled out government giving in to demands by the workers for US dollar salaries.
"We are working towards removing whatever factors that are influencing the decline of our currency," he said.
"However, we cannot and we will not determine salaries on the basis of the USD. We will work around improving our economy and strengthening our currency but will never go to a scenario where we peg salaries using the USD."
The minister added that negotiations were ongoing between the striking workers and their employer but was challenged by MPs on when the strike would be resolved and normal services can resume at the country's public health facilities.
"If two or more people are having a negotiation, the aim is that they should quickly have a conclusion but the purpose is to achieve consensus," said Ziyambi.
"We have Government workers and the Government who are trying to come together so that they come up with something that is good for each of the sides. So our main aim with negotiations is to conclude as soon as possible.
"However, we have made an offer in line with the finances that we have, so we await for them to come back to us to say if their constituents is happy with the proposal that we have tabled."
Russia: BRICS Partnership Aims for Multipolar World
23 June 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the BRICS partnership is part of the process of building a multipolar world.
The Russian president made his remarks on Thursday via video link on the occasion of the XIV BRICS Summit, which was also addressed by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
"The authority and influence of the BRICS on the world stage is constantly growing because it is connected with economic, political and human potential, and they are deepening interaction across the entire spectrum of issues on the global and regional agenda," Putin said.
The president also said that the BRICS countries could count on the support of many Asian, African, and Latin American nations that strive to pursue an independent policy respecting international law and the UN Charter's key principles.
As for the current global economic crisis, Putin said that through financial mechanisms, Western countries are transferring their own mistakes in macroeconomics to the world, thus leading to such a problematic scenario.
In addition, he said that Russia is willing to further develop close diversified cooperation with all the group's partners. Likewise, Putin said Russia seeks to enhance its role in international affairs, especially in the so-called "BRICS plus" format, including new emerging countries like Argentina.
The BRICS partnership comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These five countries account for 41 percent of the world's population and contribute 24 percent of world GDP and 18 percent of world trade.
Boiling Point: The Struggle against Capitalism and Monarchy in Swaziland
There is a misconception that many socialists have regarding the status of the revolutionary struggle within Africa: movements that have fought against capitalism and imperialism are long dead within the continent, killed off by the destructive power of the western nations. This idea is far from the truth though as Africa is home to many revolutionary parties who have been organizing to fight against the elites that rule these countries. One of these countries is the small, landlocked state of Swaziland or Eswatini of which a growing communist party has taken the charge against the absolute monarchical rule of Mswati III.
I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to a member of the Communist Party of Swaziland during mid-March to get a further understanding of the historical conditions that led up to the current struggle that is ongoing now. Comrade Pius Vilakati is the current International Secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland. The following is a transcript of that interview. Please note that there were some technical difficulties throughout this interview so some of my questions and his answers have been paraphrased to make the interview more readable but for the most part, everything that is said here is accurate to what has been discussed.
Let’s start off with an introduction of yourself and the party.
Vilakati: Thank you so much. My name is Pius Vilakati. I am the International Secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland. The Communist Party of Swaziland was formed on April 9th, 2011. We will be celebrating our 11th anniversary this coming April on the 9th. We have been fighting for freedom and socialism in Swaziland. It is important that I also mention that since May 2010 I have been living in exile in South Africa having been forced out while I was a part of the student movement. I was also the president of the student representative council at the University of Eswatini.
You mentioned that the (Communist) party was formed in 2011 so it’s a relatively young party. Can you give us a rundown on the history and conditions of the country that led up to the formation of the party?
Vilakati: This year on April 12th the system, that is the absolute monarchy system, will be marking 49 years since it was imposed on the 12th of April 1973 by the late King Sobhuza II. Sobhuza II is the father of the current King Mswati III. Sobhuza died in 1982 and Mswati took over running the country in 1986. The people of Swaziland have been living under absolute monarchy rule since 1973. Between 1968 and 1972, Swaziland had a multi-party democracy. People could vote for a political party to go into parliament. That existed only for that period. Swaziland gained its independence from Britain in 1968. Since then, political parties could participate in government but on 12th April 1973, the monarch Sobhuza II made a decision to repeal the independence constitution which allowed for political parties. In repealing it, he banned all political parties from Swaziland. He banned all political parties and bestowed all power upon himself including executive power, legislative power, and judicial power. Therefore he created an absolute monarchy from that.
It’s important to mention that until then, Swaziland didn’t have a standing army and it certainly did not need one as it hasn’t been under threat from its neighbors anyways which are Mozambique and South Africa. When Sobhuza II banned political parties he also claimed that he needed to form an armed force to defend against the country’s external aggressors. His task as said in his proclamation, was to work together with the police to enforce this decree upon the population of Swaziland. The army in Swaziland has the primary duty to defend the royal family from the population.
It is also important that we mention that repealing or the decision to repeal the constitution came from direct advice from Apartheid South Africa. Apartheid South Africa’s interests were to squeeze out the South African liberation movement from all countries in Africa specifically the African National Congress. They wanted to squeeze out all those liberation activities that have been exiled into countries such as Swaziland. Therefore the advice to repeal the constitution and ban political parties came from Apartheid South Africa and they would support the absolute monarchy all the way.
The imposition of that decree in 1973 meant that the people could not question anything that was done by the royal family whether it was through the parliament or judicial branches. It also meant that the judicial branch did not have jurisdiction over issues pertaining to the royal family including the King, his mother (the queen) and his wife and children. Over the course of years, we have seen the king fire judges that he didn’t like. We have seen even politicians in parliament who rebelled against the king end up victimized by the king and his government. All those matters have ensured that there is now deepening poverty, widening inequality, and a rising unemployment rate that only has been growing more over the years. On the other hand, we have a monarchy that continues to fatten itself. Mswati has two private jets for himself while the people don’t even have the basic needs to live. This is the historical context in which the party was formed in 2011.
What is the current status of the protests that have gained media attention in 2021?
Vilakati: The protests last year in May were sparked by the killing of university student Thabani Nkomonye by the police on the 8th of May 2021. The protests called for the end of police brutality which has been an everyday issue in the country. The protests also called for justice for Thabani and were largely led by the youth, in particular the Swaziland National Union of Students. With the increase of people joining the protests, they became more politically nationwide in their message for democracy. That is when you saw the government banning all protests in June. As the protests continued that is when the regime released the army and police on the people and within two days over 72 people were shot and killed. The number has increased since then.
Around September and October, the regime began invading communities. What they do is that they get into one community and barricade it to search for what they call “ringleaders” or those who are suspected of organizing protest actions. Many people and their families found themselves running up to the mountains in order to evade the harassment. The regime has also invaded homes and arrested younger people, specifically high school students and primary school students. Many students have come out to protest for democracy. Because the number of political prisoners has sharply risen up to 700 so many of these students also protest for the release of all political prisoners. The regime has intensified the intimidation of the people in these communities. This is why the Communist Party of Swaziland has said that we need to urgently form community councils that will help us defend these communities and to help us organize more directly and efficiently so that the revolution is well grounded at grassroots levels. The Communist Party has also organized sunset rallies every Friday in the evening. Many people have come out in support of these rallies and we are hoping that through these rallies we can help people reinvigorate the struggle so that it becomes a mass struggle for people’s democracy.
We have touched on some of the tactics and strategies the party has used in the ongoing struggle, can you go into more detail as to what methods the party has been utilizing for organizing?
Vilakati: We have also helped organize the trade union movement as it is a crucial aspect in the struggle. The Communist Party believes if we strengthen it then it can help with winning over the regime. Of course, the trade union movement is led by TUCOSWA or the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland which is a federation of various unions that affiliate with each other. We are engaging with them and talking to each one of the union leaders in order to ensure that their organization of their own protests can lead to a nation wide mass uprising against the monarchy under the one message of the Democracy Now campaign. Since 2019 the Communist Party has run the Democracy Now campaign which has resonated amongst wide numbers of the population.
Of course there are other political parties in the picture. For instance we have the older political parties like the NNLC which is the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress and PUDEMO which is the People’s United Democratic Movement. Of course there have been other parties that have been born after the Communist Party. The NNLC was born in the 1960s and PUDEMO was formed in 1983. There were also a few parties that were also born a few years back. We are trying to find ways to purify our message to bring us together under one common goal. These organizations have different outlooks and ideologies. Some of them are liberal. We think that despite the fact that we are a Communist Party and some of the forces are liberal, it is possible to organize a nation wide uprising under a common angle and goal of democracy. Since the Democracy Now campaign has been adopted by all the parties in the pro-democracy movement, we think that it is possible to unite under that campaign to fight better.
Has there been any ideological clash or conflict within the pro-democracy coalition? How has the party worked through these conflicts?
Vilakati: Of course natural differences will occur and we have anticipated that. For instance, the Communist Party from inception has been clear that we cannot have the freedom that we want as long as we have the monarchy in Swaziland. If we want to fight for real freedom we must fight outrightly for a democratic republic and true people’s power. For instance, all members from the legislature must be a result of democratic election along with all public offices. This is the minimum program of the Communist Party in the build up for socialism. Of course some of the forces are not socialist or even socialist oriented forces. Although, some of the key points they put up might be welcomed by the Communist Party. Some of them are reluctant to call for a democratic republic despite speaking for democracy. They do not outrightly commit to the call for a republic. But since the shooting and killing of large numbers of people last year, the trend has now changed towards the Communist Party especially with the large masses of our country. Many among the masses have openly proclaimed that they no longer want anything to do with the monarchy.
There are historical roots to this that go outside the calls the Communist Party has made. Since the absolute monarchy has been inserted, it has taken away property that was supposed to be held by the people. Some of these were investments such as the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane which was formed in the 1960s with the contributions of the people’s cattle, livestock, and money. When the royal family took that money, they said they would buy back land from former colonialists and invest for the good of the people of Swaziland. What has been seen in the past decades is that these investments have been held for only the enrichment of the royal family. These funds from the people have helped the royal family live their luxurious lifestyles. The eviction of the people in the process has also gone without check from the courts because the king owns all the land in Swaziland and controls that power through the chiefs giving him absolute power to evict anyone who goes against the government. It is important that we understand that we cannot be in a true fight for freedom if we do not bear those things in mind. These investments like Tibyo Taka Ngwane must be returned to the people. The royal family regime will never yield to people’s power because they know that they would have to return all the investments they have confiscated from the people and pay for all the crimes against the people throughout the decades such as the evictions, arrests, shootings, killings, and intimidation. This is why it is important to take a clear line and not a middle road line. We are working day and night to ensure that most of the forces are able to commit to the democratic republic. It takes big steps and it will be difficult.
Of course there is another aspect. The regime runs elections every 5 years for parliament and political parties are not allowed to participate so it is individual based. It is a toy parliament for the king and not for the people. The monarchy reserves the right, without any reason, to dissolve parliament. Parliament under the current system literally has no power at all! This has been another point of disagreements between the forces for democracy. Some of the forces believe that if they go into parliament they can rebel from within and put the regime in a coma. For us as a Communist Party, we see this as a middle road type of approach which in fact plays into the hands of the ruling monarch because the process is only strengthening the regime. Even if you rebel from inside it will end up without success. We believe that this energy needs to be transferred to the total fight for freedom. We are working to ensure we all boycott and disrupt the upcoming elections in 2023. We all need to be under this same line of democratic republic and full people’s power. We also want all the industries that are owned and controlled by the royal family returned to the people without any compensation to the royals. That way we are able to deal with the collapsed healthcare and education systems.
What is the relationship between the CPS and other communist parties in Africa and organizations around the world?
Vilakati: The Communist Party relates with some of the forces inside Swaziland as I have mentioned. The party also relates with other communist parties across Africa like the South African Communist Party, the Zimbabwean Communist Party, the Communist Party of Kenya, and the Sudanese Communist Party, among others. These are the parties whom we interact with but we also interact with other left forces in Africa that are communist parties, worker’s parties, and trade unions in Africa. We are attempting to rebuild the African Left Networking Forum or ALNEF. It has been around since 2008 but has thus far been unable to address the organizational challenges within the left and anti-imperialist movement in Africa. Now we are in the process of making ALNEF dedicated to the true sovereignty of Africa and the ability for Africa to freely develop without imperialist aggression.
We also affiliate with the International Communist and Workers Parties with SolidNet with more communist parties joining. We have received direct solidarity with those organizations. There are comrades in the United States who have formed the Friends of Swazi Freedom or FSF and through it they are trying to get people in the USA to identify with the struggle in Swaziland and to help make contributions to the struggle. FSF is only a few months old but they were able to galvanize new forces to support the international solidarity campaign. We expect in a few months, people will have direct information on Swaziland. Swaziland is a small country that is only 17,000 square km and only 1.2-1.3 million people. People don’t know much about it or even know if it exists. We hope that the FSF can help directly influence the people of the US. We also have other organizations, especially the Communist Party of India (Marxist). We have been in touch with some of the comrades with their struggle with the farmer and peasant movement. These are some of the aspects we have built over the years to build solidarity for Swaziland.
What is the future for the party when victory is achieved?
Vilakati: Well the first aspect will be democracy. We think that the ruling regime has kept the country backwards for a very long time within the Southern African region. We are the only country in the region that can say that it is still led by a feudalistic approach by the absolute monarchy. The minimum program is that we need democracy. The struggle for socialism in Swaziland needs everyone to participate freely in the affairs of the country. The definition of democracy we are talking about may be different from other forces as we call for a democratic republic with full people’s power. It should not be a democracy for the elites.
We are calling for the emancipation of women. Women in Swaziland are heavily suppressed as the country is deeply patriarchal due to the ideas enforced by the monarchy. Our democracy will not be a proper democracy without women becoming free. We are calling for the emancipation and the end of discrimination of the LGBTQI+ community which is another social group that is heavily suppressed. The government is using colonial laws to suppress the LGBTQI+ community. We say that the LGBTQI+ community needs to be free in order to have a democracy as we can’t have a democracy when other social groups are suppressed.
Of course we are also calling for the economy to be democratically owned by the people. It is important to mention the need for a truly sovereign state. Currently the ruling regime has been kept in power by the US, EU, and Taiwan. They have been maintaining the regime and rescuing it in its economy and politics. If they were to withdraw their support the regime would collapse. The regime is keeping power because of imperialist support and it has allowed itself to be an imperialist puppet to continue to suppress the people. We must be able to freely determine our own lives without the threat of foreign aggression. That is the struggle we need to set up and that struggle is taking us towards socialism. Socialism is the total democratic ownership of the means of production by the people for the benefit of society.
Are there any closing statements you have to sign off?
Vilakati: Thank you so much, we really appreciate this opportunity. To come to a close, the month of April is a very important month for us as we have proclaimed it as a month of mass mobilization. In April we will have the 11th anniversary of the Communist Party and the 7th National Conference of the Communist Party of Swaziland. We will also hold mass protests against the current king’s birthday which is held every year. The month of April is a very crucial month for mobilization and we hope to run this campaign for the entire month. We need great solidarity across the world and we hope that more organizations and individuals can communicate directly with the people of Swaziland and the Communist Party of Swaziland in order to ensure these campaigns are a success. We hope that we can get solidarity from media outlets. Any type of solidarity is absolutely welcome. We thank you so much.
Solidarity to you.
Since my interview with Comrade Pius Vilakati, the CPS has continued to fight against the repressive regime of Mswati III. Their campaigns in April have been successful bringing many more people to the cause and the party has supported the struggle of textile workers, nurses, and students who are also fighting the monarchy. Unfortunately, the state has only ramped up crackdowns against the people and many revolutionaries have been illegally arrested as well as killed such as Comrade Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi who was a South African internationalist who went to Swaziland to fight for the people. He was illegally arrested in 2008 and passed away in prison a few weeks ago.
The ongoing struggle in Swaziland is nothing short of a growing revolution against feudalism, capitalism, and imperialism. It is important that we as international socialists follow and give solidarity to our comrades in Swaziland in their fight as any defeat of capitalism anywhere is a victory for the masses everywhere. Groups like FSF offer many resources for internationals to learn about the Swaziland Revolution if you wish to read more. Red Africa Network will follow the events in Swaziland in a show of solidarity to the party and the people in their struggle. Power to the people of Swaziland!
OUTCOMES OF A SWAZILAND NEWS INVESTIGATION: Chief Justice to start paying back fraudulent housing allowance this month
Tuesday, 21st June, 2022
By Zweli Martin Dlamini MBABANE: Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala is highly expected to start paying back part of the money he allegedly defrauded taxpayers through a housing allowance.
This comes after this Swaziland News Investigation Unit exposed the highly corrupt Chief Justice who allegedly defrauded Government over R1million in housing allowances despite that he was allocated a house within the Judges Complex at Thembelihle, Mbabane.
As part of the evidence, this publication published a pay-slip of the Chief Justice to substantiate the allegations, insiders within the Judiciary told this publication that, thereafter, the CJ held an urgent meeting seeking advice on how he could pay back the money to resolve the mess.
“After you published the evidence, he held a meeting seeking advice on how he can sort this. This month he is expected to start paying back part of the money”, said the insider.
According to information obtained from Intelligence insiders, documentation has already been prepared to facilitate the deduction of part of the money from Maphalala’s salary starting from the month of June 2022.
Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala had not responded to our questions at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments earlier, human rights lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi described this disclosure as serious allegations of corruption.
“These are strong allegations of corruption, those who are responsible for the accountability of public funds must follow this matter. This means there are other civil servants who are unable to have houses because the Chief Justice is benefiting both the housing allowance and a Government house,” said the human rights lawyer.
The Investigation Unit of this publication has uncovered that subsequent to the allegations of fraud, corruption and or abuse of power by the Chief Justice, he was reported to the Anti- Corruption Commission(ACC) for possible investigation.
Jabu Phakathi, the Anti-Corruption Spokesperson avoided questions when reached for comments and declined to comment.
But insiders within the Anti-Corruption Commission(ACC) confirmed to this publication that the investigation by the ACC was allegedly stopped by Daniel Dlamini, the ACC Commissioner.
Dlamini’s employment as the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission(ACC) was allegedly facilitated by the Chief Justice in his capacity as the Chairman of the Judiciary Service Commission(JSC).
“The investigation was stopped by our Commissioner”, said an investigator within the ACC.
On or around 12th October 2016, Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala castrated the Anti-Corruption Commission(ACC) through a highly questionable judgement in a matter where the ACC was seeking a warrant of arrest against the then Commerce Minister Gideon Dlamini and Fred Ngeri.
Maphalala never declared that the ACC was investigating another case of corruption against him, he later facilitated the removal of Advocate Thanda Mngwengwe, the then ACC Commissioner and employed Dan Dlamini,who according to ACC investigators who spoke to this publication, has been sabotaging all investigations involving the Chief Justice.
The young woman at the helm of Zimbabwe’s most powerful union
ALOIS VINGA, BIRD STORY AGENCY
IT’S a late Tuesday afternoon and the entrance to Gorlon House on Jason Moyo Avenue, Harare, is a beehive of activity. Throngs of people are coming and going. I hurry past them and into the building to interview the woman who is said to be bringing constitutionality and balance back to the trade union movement – long seen as either a pawn or a thorn in the side of government – and who is also determined to bring gender balance to the management level of the country’s unions. That woman is Florence Taruvinga. And she’s waiting for me.
Inside Taruving’as office, a woman is standing near an executive desk, clad in safety shoes and a blue-collar industrial suit. As I look around the room, I’m jolted by an approach from the woman in front of me, who, as if reading my mind, says, “Welcome, and take a seat,” quickly adding, “I am Florence.”
The President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is clearly a woman determined to show that she leads from the front, as a defender of workers’ welfare and rights. The 33-year-old defeated her primary challenger, activist Peter Mutasa, during the 9th ZCTU elective conference.
The position is one that several other powerful Zimbabwean women, among them the late Labour Minister, Florence Chitauro, firebrand opposition leader and ex-Labour Minister, Lucia Matibenga, as well as Zimbabwe’s former Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, had sought after, but not attained.
It is, by all accounts, something of a miracle that Taruvinga succeeded. She had to endure many odds; personal, cultural, and bureaucratic to attain the position that has played a significant socio-political, as well as economic, role in life in the country.
The late former Zimbabwe Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai and the late Lovemore Matombo are just two Zimbabwean politicians who honed their political skills while incumbents in the powerful position.
For a woman, however, for whom the position came with “criticism, discouragement, name-calling, reminders of African patriarchal society which seem not to be ready… ” according to Taravunga.
“But the fact that it was through a democratic process brings delight. Electoral processes always create contestation, which is the nature and character of democracy,” she explained during the interview in her office.
A technician at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), Taravunga rose to the position at the ZCTU through an affiliate union, the Energy Sector Workers Union of Zimbabwe (ESWUZ), which she helped start.
While crediting the extensive training in labour union issues for her abilities to articulate workers’ welfare and rights, Taruvinga did not get an easy start. Attending Masvingo High School for her O-level examinations, she did not get sufficient grades to attend university and instead opted to study electrical and electronics through City and Guilds, obtaining a diploma in Electrical Installations. Today, she is an alumnus of the Fredrick Eibert- Stiftung, Zimbabwe, and the International Labour Organisation-run International Centre of Training, in Geneva.
Taruvinga admits to having held leadership positions from childhood, thanks to a strong urge to speak for others.
“As early as when I was in primary, I always got into trouble with my teachers for trying to speak against any ill-treatment,” she explained.
“Later in Grade 4, I was appointed a perfect, and this is when I realised that it is always important to be sensitive to other people’s interests and be fair to all.”
Her involvement in the labour movement dates back to 2010 when she began organising young workers in the energy industry and educating them on the importance of joining trade unions.
Taruvinga is credited with pioneering the registration of the Energy Sector Workers Union of Zimbabwe, or ESWUZ – in 2012 and recruiting members.
Between 2013 and 2019, Taruvinga was the interim national women’s chairperson for ESWUZ and a councillor at the ZCTU. In October 2016, she was elected the first vice-president of the ZCTU.
In March 6, 2018, she was fired from her job at ZESA for demonstrating against non-compliance with collective bargaining agreements and bad corporate governance, before being reinstated a year later.
The 33- year-old is happy that the wall of patriarchy that previously locked women out of leadership in the top union is slowly being broken. Currently, there are ten women in national executive positions at ZCTU, with 141 others elected to the top five positions (praesidium, secretariat, treasury, trustee, or national organising) at affiliate unions.
However, according to Taruvinga, these figures remain appallingly low. Of the 289 leadership positions across ZCTU affiliates, women’s leadership stands at just 33 percent.
Taruvinga is now keen to use her influential position to engender leadership and get women’s voices heard.
‘It is a fact that the local trade union environment is still heavily influenced by patriarchal tendencies inherited from the past. However, as Congress, we have since resolved to fully implement our gender policy which covers a host of policy interventions detailing our stance and response to gender issues in the world of work and the trade unions,“ she says.
“It is, therefore, our hope and trust that the trade union should deal decisively with sexual harassment issues, gender-based violence, creation of glass ceilings for women, and general stereotyping of women. If need be, we shall embark on affirmative action programs to promote women and young workers.”
The ZCTU Constitution, Gender Policy, Strategic Plan, and resolutions of the Women’s Committee Conference all place women at the core of the organisation. Now Taravangu wants an end to lip-service and wants to see programmes and campaigns at the ZCTU actually empowering women.
Taruvinga has vowed to prove her critics wrong as she looks to strengthen the position of women in the federation.
She believes that one of the key strategies to achieve the objective is to fully operationalise the ZCTU’s already adopted resolution on the empowerment of women, including the full implementation of the union’s gender policy which covers a host of policy interventions detailing the stance and response to gender issues in the world of work.
“The trade union should deal decisively with sexual harassment issues, gender-based violence, creation of glass ceilings for women, and general stereotyping of women. We shall embark on affirmative action programmes to promote women and young workers,” Taruvinga said.
“It is the understanding of women’s emancipation and knowing that there is no line between the two. I believe that the trade union is an equal opportunity organisation whose cornerstones are underpinned by democracy, accountability, and, more
importantly, participation,” she said.
The ZCTU is the country’s leading federation, with 35 affiliate trade unions. It is credited with playing a crucial role in the socio-economic discourse of the country since the attainment of independence in 1980.
It was formed on February 28th, 1981, bringing together 52 existing unions.
In pre-independent Zimbabwe, though the labour movement was largely controlled by the white minority, unions had played a significant role in political agitation, the fight for workers’ welfare, and the nationalist struggle.
After liberation, the ruling party, Zanu-PF, led by the late president Robert Mugabe used the trade union movement’s close association with the liberation movement to help form an umbrella trade union movement to champion the welfare of workers and retain influence in the newly independent country.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo explains that the federation has several achievements to its credit, including establishing a legislated social dialogue platform, and the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (Labour, business, and the government) to discuss critical socio-economic issues.
The federation also formed the main opposition political party, Movement for Democratic Change, led by renowned late trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai, who later became the country’s prime minister.
“The federation fought for and won a progressive Labour Act in the 1980s. The union participated in the working people’s convention that led to the democratization of the political landscape, culminating in the establishment of the Movement for Democratic Change led by the now late unionist former prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai,” Moyo said.
“It has trained thousands of shop stewards, paralegals, negotiators, and researchers through the establishment of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ),” he added.
It has also successfully challenged unprogressive legislation in the courts and opposed the levying of workers, played a pivotal role in establishing the National Social Security Authority and founded the biggest informal economy association that represents workers in the informal sector.
Against this background, Taruvinga’s victory comes at a critical time in the party. According to the former Labour Minister Paurina Mpariwa, the development bears testimony to decades-long advocacy for women’s empowerment.
“This is a good starting point after over four decades of hard work,” she said.
“I want to believe that the training and advocacy work conducted over the years on women empowerment in the labour movement has paid dividends. I hope that she will continue to encourage other women to join hands with her. Women must lead several other committees in the ZCTU to strengthen her capacity as president,” Mpariwa said.
Another veteran trade unionist, past member of the Commercial Workers Union of Zimbabwe (CWUZ), and former Labour Minister, Lucia Matibenga, expressed excitement at what Taruvinga’s position means for Zimbabwe.
“I believe she was elected on merit and not sympathy; this should be the norm. As women, we are not there yet; more needs to be done to push more women into leadership positions in both the public as well as the private sector, “she said.
“ZCTU… is a small step that serves as an example of how organisations should consider capable women for leadership positions. Miss Taruvinga will serve as a role model to women in general and young women in particular.”
Young workers in the country, like Trymore Musipa from the Railway Artisans’ Union (RAU) talk of Taruvinga making a “positive impact, not only to ZCTU but to the labour struggle at large.”
According to Musipa, Taruvinga may also manage to address an “identity crisis” that has been haunting the ZCTU as an apolitical movement constitutionally mandated to protect the interests of workers by fighting anti-worker government policies, as opposed to fighting the government itself.
“Taruvinga is bringing back constitutionalism, ideological clarity, and purity. She has so far addressed the long-held hostile relationships between the government and the federation without also making the movement an appendage of the government or ruling party as purported by the misguided and misdirected disciples of air,” Musipa explained.
Soon after her election, Taruvinga crisscrossed the nation, meeting workers through labour forums, listening to their concerns, reinforcing ideological issues, and then pressed the government to find ways to provide workers with inflation-proof wages.
“Last month during the May 1 commemorations, she braved the occasion in front of the Labour Minister who was in attendance and made it clear that inflation had eroded workers’ salaries,” Musipa related.
“She even called for the immediate address of the transport crisis that was haunting workers, and shortly after that, the government liberalised the transport system. I see in her a mother, dedicated to uniting all the workers for the common cause, which is a restoration of their dignity,” he added.
Given the position’s potential as a path to politics, there are already questions over whether Taruvinga has political ambitions.
For now, however, Taruvinga said she remains steadfast in her focus on workers’ rights, especially women.
“My election should inspire all women and especially young workers that collectively, we can achieve,” she concluded.
Iran arrests Israel Mossad cell planning to assassinate scientists
June 22, 2022
Iranian authorities announced yesterday that they had arrested an Israeli Mossad cell which planned to assassinate nuclear scientists in the country.
Local news agencies reported that the Prosecutor General of Sistan-Baluchistan province, Mehdi Shamsabadi, had confirmed the arrests.
"The arrest of these Mossad operatives came after a complicated intelligence operation that lasted for eight months of monitoring," Shamsabadi said, explaining that "there was so much evidence" against them that they did not protest at all when the arrest warrant was issued.
"The case is currently in the preliminary investigation stage and an indictment will be issued and sent to the court soon," he added.
According to the official, the detainees are involved in the "dissemination of confidential information and documents."
On 20 April, the Iranian General Intelligence in Sistan and Baluchistan confirmed the arrest of three Mossad spies by order of the judiciary.
Archbishop calls for the urgent action to save Christian properties from Jewish settlers
The head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem has called for urgent and unified action to nullify suspicious deals through which important real estate owned by the church in occupied Jerusalem has apparently been sold to illegal settler associations. Archbishop Atallah Hanna insisted that this is a political issue, not a legal one.
In a public statement, the patriarch explained that the Orthodox properties that the illegal Jewish settlers have stolen from their owners are an authentic part of the Christian Quarter and the Orthodox Patriarchate. This was a reference to the Imperial and Petra Hotels and other Palestinian-owned properties in the Jaffa Gate area.
"We do not believe that the recent decision by an Israeli court is the end of the road. The issue of this real estate is not a legal issue, but rather a political issue and an issue directly related to the ancient and authentic Christian presence in this sacred spot in the world," said Father Hanna. "Whoever leaked these real estate properties is not authorised to do so and does not have powers of this kind."
The Christian endowments in Palestine are not a commodity offered in a public auction, he added, but are part of the history and heritage of the Holy City and every corner and every inch in Jerusalem city means "history, heritage and authenticity" to the Palestinians.
The archbishop said that there is a need for political pressure, as well as movement from international churches. The Orthodox Church, he pointed out, also relies on Jordan's King Abdullah II, whose kingdom is the official custodian of Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments in Jerusalem, in addition to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "There is a need for pressure from several parties in order to nullify these sinister and illegal deals."
Last week, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to nullify the seizure of three assets by the Ateret Cohanim settler organisation in the Jaffa Gate area in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem. All Israeli settlers and the settlements in which they live are illegal under international law.
Palestine Action Permanently Shut Down Israeli Arms Firm’s London HQ
20 June 2022
20 June 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
• After relentless direct action and a number of arrests, Palestine Action has made business in Britain’s capital inoperable for Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit Systems. The firm has abandoned its office at 77 Kingsway, leaving Elbit’s London Headquarters permanently closed.
• Since 2020, activists have taken action 15 times at the site, disrupting business by blockading, occupying and defacing the property. The campaign culminated in 60 arrests for which activists continue to face trial. Elbit’s exit in London comes just 5 months after it was forced to shut Elbit Ferranti in Oldham.
• Elbit leased the London site from real estate giant Jones Lang Lasalle (JJL), which sparked a sister campaign calling on them to ‘Evict Elbit’. Activists carried out dozens of actions targeting JLL premises across the country.
• Palestine Action: “We’ve slammed the doors of Elbit’s London HQ shut, as direct action has once again permanently closed an Elbit Systems site in Britain. Thanks to our brave and spirited activists, we are ever closer to the end of Israel’s arms trade in Britain.”
Recently, police told Palestine Action activists who were under arrest, that Elbit was abandoning its London Headquarters at 77 Kingsway. Security at the company’s entrance told Samantha Asumadu, a freelance journalist, working for the Big Issue, that Elbit was not at the site and they had never heard of them. The front desk also confirmed that the Israeli arms firm were not there and even denied the company ever was, despite it being well known that Elbit was leasing the sixth floor for many years. A separate security guard confirmed to another source that Elbit had indeed left the building.
This makes 77 Kingsway the second Elbit site permanently shut down by Palestine Action, in less than 2 years of sustained direct action. Behind closed doors, war criminals have been facilitating Elbit’s British-based operations — no more! Palestine Actionists have worked tirelessly, but successfully, to shut its London site.
Palestine Action’s inaugural action saw activists storm the company’s former central London office, trashing site facilities and spray painting ‘Shut Elbit Down’ and ‘We will be back’ across the walls. As the campaign continued, tactics included disruptive entry, outdoor & indoor occupations, paint throwing and chain-and-lock blockades. The 15 separate actions at Kingsway and simultaneous sister actions against its landlords, have culminated in dozens of arrests — 60 in total, for which many activists still face trial. Elbit’s closure comes after weeks of dramatically-intensified action targeting their Kingsway headquarters.
In August 2020, a sister campaign against Elbit’s London landlord, Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), was also launched. It demanded that JLL ‘Evict Elbit’. Multiple & systematic actions took place against the real estate firm, who knowingly leased the site to an Israeli company making weapons used to suppress captive populations. JLL’s sites have been routinely defaced, smashed and doused in the Palestine Action iconic red paint, as activists continued to demand that the landlords “Evict Elbit” and cease profiting from the genocide of the Palestinian people. Three members of Palestine Action, including two co-founders, Richard Barnard and Huda Ammori, still face fictitious charges of blackmail, in response to the campaign demanding Elbit’s eviction.
Excellently, Palestine Action have finished what they started at 77 Kingsway, which was the first Elbit Systems site the movement targeted upon launching. Nearly two years on, Elbit have once again been forced to shut down operations and leave another of their British sites — and this comes only five months after the business sold its factory in Oldham at a loss. Palestine Action will continue to throw a spanner in the works of apartheid, military occupation and dispossession until Palestine is free.
“Elbit’s London Headquarters once played an important role in coordinating the firm’s bloodstained network of British operations, but not anymore,” says a spokesperson for Palestine Action. “After ceaseless direct action at 77 Kingsway and JLL, we have brought Elbit’s London operations to an end. Palestine Action has yet to reach its two-year anniversary, and already we have permanently shut down two sites belonging to Israel’s largest arms company.
“We will build on the success of this closure and we won’t stop until all eight remaining sites follow suit. It’s a victory for all those who sacrificed their liberty and to all those who supported the movement, but most importantly the Palestinian people. It brings us another step closer to the day Israel’s arms trade is out of Britain for good.”
Cuban Foreign Minister highlights the failure of the 9th Summit of the Americas
Cuban Foreign Minister highlights the failure of the 9th Summit of the Americas
Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
Havana, Jun 13 (RHC)-- Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, described the 9thSummit of the Americas as a failure, which generated public criticism of the U.S. decision not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
In an interview on Cuban television on Monday evening, Rodriguez said that Cuba's absence in the meeting in Los Angeles was always a reason for discord with the United States and became a vindication of Latin America and the Caribbean.
"They underestimate us with arrogance, with their vision of domination, and underestimate our America for protesting and imposing an ever-greater resistance," he said, alluding to the discriminatory policy of the White House.
The foreign minister stressed that the voice and presence of the island were permanent in the so-called hemispheric summit, in the People's Summit, in the U.S. and international press, in digital networks, and in the interventions of the region's leaders.
In his opinion, the protagonist of this new feat is the Cuban people, which amid so many difficulties, continue to move forward because of its history of resistance, victorious effort, and generous and solidary detachment.
Regarding the possibility of participating in another edition of the Summit, Rodríguez Parrilla confirmed that Cuba would participate since its government and people are not afraid to discuss issues of significant interest based on respect.
Issued by NEHAWU International Service Centre
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