Mind your own business, Numsa told

LUSAKA. – The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions has said it has taken great exception to the statement purported to have been released by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in which it called for the immediate and unconditional release of former Post Newspapers director Fred M’membe’s wife, Mutinta, and all those detained. In a statement released to the media and signed by ZCTU secretary-general Cosmas Mukuka, Zambia’s labour movement said it found the position taken by NUMSA in very bad taste and unacceptable in terms of how trade unions within and beyond the borders ought to co-exist especially on matters of national sovereignty and the due process of law.

The full ZCTU statement reads as follows: “We take great exception to the statement purported to have been released by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in which it called for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Fred M’membe’s wife, Mutinta, and all those detained.

“Zambia’s labour movement has a rich and respectable history with their counterparts in South Africa and the region. It is unacceptable for a national union (such) as NUMSA to issue threats that are international in nature and touching on the sovereignty of another country without engaging stakeholders on the ground. This statement is therefore a total departure from how unionism across borders must work.

“We are persuaded to issue this statement because firstly the Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) was never consulted on this matter as the case ought to be. As a matter of fact, we know not of any other union in Zambia that was consulted by NUMSA in this regard. We find this position taken by NUMSA as one in very bad taste and unacceptable in terms of how trade unions within and beyond the borders ought to co-exist especially on matters of national sovereignty and the due process of law.

“Had NUMSA consulted, they should have known that trade unions in Zambia and indeed from other countries in the region have never meddled in South Africa’s internal challenges because we have great regard for sovereignty. Trade unions in Zambia have the capacity to deal with issues existing internally and should there be need for solidarity, that call would be made expressly from our side and not externally as NUMSA has done.

“While trade unions should remain interested in matters of democracy and good governance, as Zambia has demonstrated from pre-Independence, we find it unacceptable to be the ones to demonise what is existing in another country minus consulting colleagues and comrades on the ground. ZCTU would have no justification whatsoever to condemn the South African regime without consulting its counterparts in that country. Consultation must never come as an after-thought in this regard!

“NUMSA also ought to know that this matter is before the competent courts of jurisdiction in Zambia as it touches on tax avoidance and non-remittance of statutory taxes to the taxman, Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), by the former Post Newspapers Limited. As such this matter is between ZRA and the Post Newspapesr as far as we know unless NUMSA has information to the contrary. We therefore ask NUMSA, if indeed they did issue that statement, to respect Zambia’s due process of the law as well as our sovereignty as a country.

“We wish to remind NUMSA that our core business as trade unions is to defend and protect the interests of the working class. In this regard, we call on them to take interest in the welfare of the workers who have been affected due to the processes before the courts and whose interests the liquidation seeks to serve.

“Lastly, the Zambian government will be committing an illegality if they are to interfere and stall processes at court and no union should be in the forefront to promote such tendencies. It is also irresponsible for anyone to threaten trade between Zambia and South Africa on account of matters rightfully before the courts.

“Under what NUMSA is proposing, it is not just the Zambian worker but the South African worker who will suffer. They can do themselves a favour by understanding how much of trade exists between the two countries and which of them remains the greatest beneficiary.” – Lusaka Times.

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