Today, progressive forces are confronted with the question of recovering lost momentum and taking the struggle to the next level. Since the 1999 Working People’s Convention the crisis in Zimbabwe has plunged to deeper depths and the imperative for change have never been more compelling. Change in both the undemocratic political framework and the neo-liberal economic policies that have condemned working people to conditions of destitute poverty. More than ever before the Mugabe dictatorship and its ESAP must go.
There are a lot of important lessons to be learnt on how the broad opposition forces advanced the agenda for change since the 1999 Working People’s Convention. Today’s most important task is to reclaim the spirit and agenda of the nineties as expressed in the agenda of the 1999 working people’s convention. High on the agenda of the 1999 WPC was the inability of the economy to address the basic needs of the majority of Zimbabweans; The severe decline in incomes, employment, health, food security and well being of people; The unfair burden borne by working women and the persistence of gender discrimination in practice. The decline and collapse of social services like education, health and municipal services; Lack of progress in resolving land hunger and rural development; Human rights, the constitution, corruption etc.
The convention went further to note that the ‘Agenda for Action that arises from [the resolutions] will not be realised without a strong, democratic, popularly driven and organised movement of the people’.
Looking back it is clear that our movement became weaker when it was hijacked by elitists who pushed to the periphery the radical democratic agenda that characterised 1999 and imposed a limited neo- liberal reformist agenda that reduced the crisis to just a question of governance. This is high time to reconvene all working peoples and reclaim the working people’s agenda. It’s high time to regroup the scattered radical democratic forces and reclaim the working people’s traditions of struggle. It is time to move away from the hotels and conferences and reclaim the streets. We have an opportunity to build a much more ideologically richer second wave of struggles and the ISO/ ZSF/ZCTU demands from the Action Against Poverty of last November must form the basis of a Working People’s Charter that must be driven through a United Democratic Front. The key demands are; non taxable living wage in line with PDL, free ARVs, price controls, affordable food, right to trade for informal traders and flea markets, affordable sanitary pads and baby milk, reversal of privatisation of education and an end of victimisation of student leaders, repeal POSA and AIPPA and a new democratic constitution that guarantees political and socio-economic rights. We must also demand that the government stops all payments to the IMF and other international banks and use the foreign currency to buy food, ARVs, fuel, fund education and provide clean drinking water to communities.