The 4th Women’s Conference roared into life in the tourist resort town of Kariba at Cutty Sark hotel where notable guests converged to be part of the prestigious event.
Amongst the guests and delegates present were Hon A. Damasane – Deputy Minister, Women, Gender and Community Development, Hon T. Muzenda – Deputy Minister, Energy and Power Development, Mrs. Simango of the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Services, the local Member of Parliament, District Administrator, local Councillor, regional representatives from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia as well as Industriall.
Also present were guests from Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, the National Engineering Workers Union, Communications and Allied Services Workers Union of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Labour Centre, Commercial Workers Union of Zimbabwe, Matsikidze and Mucheche Legal Practitioners, NEC Zimbabwe Energy Industry and Zimbabwe Power Company (Kariba)
The Conference started by singing the national anthem and observed a moment’s silence to honour the passing on of the former Midlands Resident Minister, Comrade Cephas Msipa.
The National Executive Committee member for the constituency, Cde Zimi made welcome remarks followed by presidium and the NWAC leadership introductions from the General Secretary,Cde Martin Chikuni. The Acting DA (Kariba) then introduced the local government officials as well as the Deputy Ministers.
The President Cde Angeline Chitambo officially opened the Conference by welcoming all Government Ministers, officials, local and international guests and thanking them for accepting the invitation to Conference.
Hon A. Damasane delivered the keynote address in which she applauded ZEWU for a well organized function and encouraged the Conference to come up with resolutions that dignified women’s contributions both at the workplace and at home. She alerted the Conference to a number of women friendly legislation that had been passed by the government since independence in 1980 citing as examples; The Majority Age Act of 1982, The Public Service Pensions Amendment of 1985, The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1987 and The Domestic Violence Act of 1987.
Hon Damasane encouraged the union to continue to have an inclusive policy and announced that section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe made equality an issue of policy.
She challenged ZEWU to participate at local levels in the women empowerment programmes, to adopt the Women in Gender Budgeting model in policy decisions and incorporate young women into structures to manage smooth succession and familiarize with the Ministry’s Gender Policy.
Senator T. Muzenda was impressed with the level of organization exhibited by ZEWU in putting together the Women’s Conference and urged the Conference to look beyond just empowerment of women in participation in trade unionism, but to be agents of creating self-sustenance of the union.
Hon Muzenda expected to partner with ZEWU in the exploration of alternative sources of energy since ZEWU has the expertise while the Ministry would provide administrative know how.
Comrade Mbonisi Sibanda, Assistant General Secretary took the Conference through the history of ZEWU, the structures and Constitution. Comrade P. Chenyika, A/NOS followed through with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe placing emphasis on section 65 which provides for Labour Rights.
To close the day, solidarity messages came from Cde Theresa of Ghana Mine Workers Union who expressed satisfaction with the good organization shown by ZEWU. She indicated that investing in women is not only the right thing to do , but the smart thing to do. She encouraged women to support each other instead of pulling one another down, to complement each other by identifying areas of strength to address each other’s weakness.
Cde Hlazo from National Union of Mine Workers (NUM) acknowledged the hospitality she received in Zimbabwe and that she was inspired by ZEWU’s way of doing things as well as the progressive ZEWU Constitution. She called for unity and solidarity among women and advised the Conference to elect into office capable people who would advance the interests of women at the workplace. She urged the Conference to look after the sick, ensure they were treated and are not discriminated against at the workplace.
Botswana Mine Workers’ Union’s Cde Tsepo urged women to recognize their own achievements and discouraged them from sabotaging each other. She also urged the Conference to elect capable cadres into office who would advance the women agenda always.
Cde Martha, a guest from Ghana encouraged women to mentor each other urging them to work very hard so as not to be overtaken by events at the workplace as well as to take responsibility at all times to always recognize and respect the leadership.
Cde Paula, Industriall Representative, expressed happiness to be part and parcel of the Conference and encouraged women to move with their men from the bedroom into the boardroom where decisions are made. She advised women not to be oppressed by men by use of religion and culture as a way of marginalizing them from decision making positions. She pointed out that education is very important for women as it empowered them to fight against precarious work and all other forms of exploitation such as casualisation of labor.
Forward Ever Backwards Never!
Kwira Mukadzi Kwira!
Phakama mama phakama!
Tanha Mamha Tanha!
Halla Bo Mama Halla!
Viva ZEWU Viva!