THIS week the leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions called for demonstrations against the Government that failed to materialise after workers ignored the suspicious timing and motives of the proposed industrial action, and chose to proceed with their day-to-day business.
The demonstration had also not been sanctioned by the police, which is why the 100 people, including the organisation’s seven leaders who tried to demonstrate, were arrested for taking part in an unsanctioned gathering.
We salute all Zimbabweans who ignored the self-serving call by the ZCTU for their progressiveness.
This is not to say we hate the ZCTU. Far from it. We are also workers in the media and keen on better working conditions and adequate remuneration.
But we never believed that the proposed ZCTU demonstration was for our benefit. It was clear that the labour leaders were out to serve a political agenda as they have consistently done since the launch of the MDC on September 11 1999.
Over the years, the ZCTU has tried to use the cover of trade unionism to abet the MDC cause, of course mouthing the usual platitudes of economic hardships.
But workers have not been fooled, especially since the trend of ZCTU actions since the MDC was launched in 1999 is to target only one employer -the Government – as if the private sector does not exist.
More so the “grievances” advanced to justify the proposed demonstration fall under the purview of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum, which the ZCTU continues to sabotage and before which it should naturally table the alleged gripes.
Demonstrations, mass actions, strikes, or stayaways, by nature, are coercive measures that should only be adopted after everything else fails to achieve the desired end.
President Mnangagwa has consistently made it clear that he is a listening President, his Government is open to engaging all stakeholders on matters of concern.
If the ZCTU was really concerned about the welfare of workers, they would give dialogue with Government a chance because as far as the welfare of workers is concerned, dialogue under the auspices of the TNF is an option that has not been used, which is why we were surprised at the ZCTU’s leadership’s fixation with the confrontational route.
We are sure many workers saw this as well. We are reminded of the words former ZCTU boss, and MDC founding leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, uttered at a ZCTU congress in 2001 where he said:
“The ZCTU is the soul of the MDC and if you remove the soul, the party will die. We are one with you and what we have done with the formation of the MDC is to merely deploy some of our men at another point. You have given us at the political front, a battle to fight and it is a struggle that we absolutely cannot afford to fail whether as MDC or ZCTU.’’
Need we say more?
In light of the ZCTU’s continued failure to advocate labour issues, and apparent fixation with politics, we would like to urge workers to reclaim their organisation.
They must relieve incumbent ZCTU president Peter Mutasa and secretary-general Japhet Moyo and company of the trade union hats so they can join full-time politics.
It is high time people with the concerns of workers in particular, and the nation in general took the reins at the ZCTU.
To this end, we would also like to urge the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Sekai Nzenza, and other parties to the TNF to seriously consider the longstanding proposal by Concerned ZCTU Affiliates who want social partners to circumvent the ZCTU to directly engage affiliate unions.
That is the only way the real concerns of the workers can be addressed, since the current labour leadership no longer represents workers.