ZCTU divided over demonstrations

Christopher Makaza.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) workers and part of the leadership have dismissed plans by ZCTU President, Peter Mutasa to stage demonstrations against government from 22 July, saying the general council had not consulted the membership.

In a meeting held on Tuesday at Gorlon House in Harare with the union staff and leadership, Mutasa, who visibly showed signs of pressure from somewhere, dictated that the demonstrations should proceed as scheduled to force government to solve economic challenges bedevilling the country.

A close source within the union revealed that Mutasa was labouring under pressure from the MDC which wants to use the ZCTU demonstrations to gauge the state`s capacity to quell the demonstrations before they stage their so called mother of all demonstrations.

The source also said that Mutasa was promised a ministerial position by MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa once the opposition party gets into power.

However, the staff and part of the leadership charged that Mutasa was making unilateral decisions and warned that they would resist the move to stage demonstrations.

According to the source, workers noted that if the demonstrations were about the rising prices of goods and services then they (demonstrations) should be directed at the business community not government.

“Government is not the one that is raising prices of basic commodities and services, in fact government is fighting to have the prices go down and, therefore, it does not make sense to demonstrate against the government that is also fighting from our corner,” one worker is said to have said in the meeting.

The workers explicitly recognised the efforts of government in trying to turn around the economy and cushion its workers.

The government has since started giving civil servants cushioning allowances while the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) continue to convene meetings to discuss an increment and other conditions of service for government workers. The government has encouraged the private sector to follow suit and cushion their workers. The government has also vowed to continue availing ZUPCO buses to both urban and rural folks.

The introduction of SI 142 by the government has led to a substantial decline in prices of some basic commodities. The government has also promised to set up people`s shops countrywide with subsidised goods.

The workers also said that the demonstrations would be against the spirit of Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNP) whose mandate is to ensure consultation, cooperation and negotiation on social and economic issues by government, Organised Business and Organised Labour.

The workers and part of the leadership was concerned that a demonstration soon after the botched #Tajamuka demonstration and the treasonous utterances by MDC Vice Chairman, Job Sikhala will not go well for ZCTU.

Meanwhile, the contact revealed that ZCTU was even failing to secure funding for demonstrations. They had banked on International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Friedrick Ebert Stiftung (FES) for funding but they were told that they (organisations) only have money to promote dialogue between government and stakeholders.