Many Zimbabweans have heeded the call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to go on a three-day work stayaway from Monday.
It is against the austerity measures imposed by the finance minister and the 150 percent fuel price rise announced by president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday.
The suffering Zimbabweans have gone beyond the stayaway to demonstrate in the townships and cities of Zimbabwe. From early Monday morning angry protesters started gathering, burning tyres and barricading roads with huge stones to block public and private transport from carrying passengers.
Those who started marching into town were blocked by police. This started running battles with police, resulting in police cars being attacked and stoned.
The demonstrators attacked police stations burning police cars.
By Monday evening the government was sending in troops in an effort to restore its repressive order.
This revolt comes after doctors had embarked on a 40-day strike demanding better working conditions, for government to supply medication to hospitals and also to be paid in US dollars rather than the worthless Zimbabwean bond money.
This was followed by government workers, teachers and nurses coming together demanding to be paid in US dollars.
The Zimbabwean bond money has been devalued by 300 percent since the worsening of the economic crisis last October when the minister of finance announced the austerity measures.
After the announcement of the country’s economic policy, which the minister dubbed “austerity for prosperity”, prices of most basic commodities more than doubled while the salaries of workers remain unchanged.
It is against this background that we welcomed the ZCTU call for a stayaway demanding the government addresses the economic meltdown that has impacted negatively on ordinary working class people.
The removal of president Robert Mugabe in 2017 did not solve the economic crisis that Zimbabwe has witnessed for the past decades. This reflects the deepening crisis of capitalism in Zimbabwe and globally after the 2008 great recession and the failure of austerity and neoliberal policies implemented by our rulers.
This has been worsened by Mnangagwa’s “open for business” policy that has seen the extraction of raw materials at low prices and then their import back at high prices.
The first day of the stayaway was so successful that the government panicked and made calls to block social media that was being used as a tool for continued mobilisation.
Some opposition leaders are seeking to hijack and channel the anti-austerity revolt by workers and the poor into a so-called national dialogue and compromise with the government.
For the leaders of both the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, their way forward is to impose neoliberal austerity measures against the working class and the poor.
The right wing organisations that are currently also pushing for social dialogue are fronts and are funded by the imperialist countries that are seeking to limit working class demands. This happened in the late 1990s when workers rose against the effects of the Economic Structural Adjustment Program.
As workers say no to this new phase of neoliberal austerity we should not let our struggles be hijacked again.
The government can find money to charter a plane this week for Mnangagwa and his team to fly across five countries in Europe - so the money is there. Mnangagwa's team will be part of the Davos summit selling the country to imperialist investors. The government can buy vehicles for more than 300 Members of Parliament- so the money is there.
There must be no going back on the demand for a living wage for workers—in US dollars. Tobacco and cotton farmers should also be paid their money in US dollars.
There must be no harassment of street vendors who are trying to make a living to support their families. Fuel, school fees and basic commodities price increases should be reversed immediately.
No to privatisation of government companies as this will only benefit the elite close to the government who will buy the companies at the very minimum amounts.
We need a broad radical united front of unions in the private and public workers, vendors, pensioners, students, youths, socialist and radical anti-neoliberal organisations and movements to expand the demonstrations.
However, the only way forward ultimately is smashing the system of capitalism which breeds poverty, misery and dictatorship in the first place, and to fight for socialism.