Mayday Mayday Mayday

via Mayday Mayday Mayday – ANGUS SHAW May 2, 2015

Mayday Mayday Mayday is the international aviation and maritime emergency call. It was adopted in the 1920s as a radio distress signal that cannot be mistaken in poor conditions of static or violent noise when the word is repeated three times. It originates from the French “m’aidez,” meaning “help me.”

May Day, May 1, International Workers’s Day, has come and gone in Zimbabwe’s distressed economy without joy. The main labour federation, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, says the day could not be celebrated, rather it was a “commemoration” of what it was like to have had a healthy economy with workers’ rights respected, including the basic right to work and put food on the family table, and where acceptable employment opportunities were enjoyed.

Conservatively, the formal economy of business, commerce and industry has recorded 85 percent unemployment with new job losses every day. The official spin doctors say this is nonsense because most of the unemployed are now employed in the informal sector – street vending, selling cellphone airtime, carpentry, vegetables and second hand clothing at roadside stalls – there’s hardly a paving in central Harare not covered with piles of tomatoes – trinkets in flea markets, then there’s hustling and a host of other activities to make a dollar. So, say the spin doctors, 90 percent of Zimbabweans are actually engaged in gainful work, though their earnings, admittedly, are not going into banks to ease the current cash shortages

In the week leading up to Workers’ Day, Mr Mugabe hosted a regional summit on industrialisation in Harare. Presidents and prime ministers went away briefcases bulging with case studies on how to industrialise and ”beneficiate”  or add value to southern Africa’s minerals and primary products the modern industrial way, generally requiring significant foreign direct investment that Zimbabwe, among the regional club of 15 SADC countries, has largely scared away with the exception of opaque deals with China.

The irony of Zimbabwe hosting this summit was not lost on participants, given the current xenophobia in South Africa, where as many as 3 million Zimbabwean live, mostly as economic fugitives. SA’s President Jacob Zuma, for one, had asked rhetorically why foreign nationals don’t stay in their own countries and go instead in search of the Holy Grail in his.

Industrial revolutions elsewhere thrived on rail transport. Zimbabwe’s railways are running at less than 15 percent of previous capacity.  Signal wiring and equipment have been vandalized or stolen; drivers use cellphones, but where there is no coverage warnings are done manually – a flag is placed down the line from a train breakdown, sometimes tiny gunpowder charges are left on the rails so the wheels of an upcoming train pop them and the driver knows he must stop.

The home of the NRZ, the former hub of heavy industry, Bulawayo, is in massive decline. Once vibrant factories are used as storage warehouses for goods imported from South Africa, accounting for some 80 percent of food, consumables and other commodities available in supermarkets and shops.

Industry needs constant power and water, summiteers were reminded when a nationwide black out plunged into darkness. Standby generators at the summit venue did not kick in and the headlights of a car were briefly used to light in the lobby. At the Meikles Hotel, where some delegates stayed, the standby generator did kick in but the lifts were still stuck for six minutes.


  • comment-avatar

    Zanu = The party of de-industrialisation. Kasukuwere = minister of de-industrialisation. Mugabe = boss of de-industrialisation. Racism = engine and driving force of de-industrialisation.

    I never thought that 35 years after “Independence” racism in Zimbabwe would be more vicious and destructive than ever before. Even our constitution is now racist!

    Has there ever been a government so dedicated to de-industrialisation as Zanu-Pf?

  • comment-avatar
    Tokolosh 7 years ago

    If a professor with the highest possible degree in destruction, was to write a manuel on how to destruct a country and its people, he would be put to shame by mugarbagepf and his comrades. How proud they must feel when asked a question like ‘What did Zimbabwe have before candles? ‘….Electricity is the answer. Talk about incompetent is an understatement. Mayday, Mayday, Mayday is now turning to Mai-weh , Mai-weh, Mai-weh

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    Rockstone 7 years ago

    We rather call it frustration day of unemployment in Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar
    Gonoq 7 years ago

    Pres Mugabe has degrees from Unisa. You just have to walk down any road in Zimbabwe and see the absolute mess he has made of this country which should be fairly wealthy with its resources .It shows you you may have a degree or two but it doesn’t mean you intelligent or helps you run a country. Unless his degrees were in self. Destructiveness. In that he has got an a plus.. May Day is irrelevant as there are no workers left as there are no jobs.

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    Mukanya 7 years ago

    Zimbabwe has been sending out this distress signal for long, please assist, the country is now well de-industrialised and marching towards tribal fragmentation before the inevitable occurs.

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    I am not the one 7 years ago

    Reading the articles on this site I can only think that Zimbabweans r cowards and treat the situation as a joke. They do say that u have to bring some humor into a difficult situation but there is a limit. Stop all the pontificating and do something cos quite frankly nobody really cares about Zim despite all the nice sounds that western politicians might make. Nobody gives a sh1t wats happening to the people as long as they can get at the diamonds and nobody cares that corruption is rife, infrastructure ducked, tribalism and racism everywhere. At the end of the day Zim means nothing apart from to those who live there. Get off ur behinds and do something!