INDICATIONS from the country’s labour fraternity that all is not well within the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) with affiliate organisations mulling to exit in the wake of the departure of one of ZCTU’s members, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta).
This is a very sad development.
Giving its reasons for the shock withdrawal, the country’s largest teacher union and ZCTU’s key associate, Zimta said: “The Zimta national executive felt its continued affiliation to the ZCTU violates the Zimta’s principle and constitutional provision of political non-partisanship. This position was taken after it became clear that the ZCTU dabbles in opposition party politics.”
For a seasoned, tried and tried and tested organisation such as the ZCTU this situation is embarrassing, to say the least, if these allegations by Zimta are true. It is a fact that the labour movement in this country has birthed many key figures in the past history of the country, even from the times of colonialism with iconic individuals such as the late Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo having found their political routes in labour. It is, however, not acceptable that the labour movement should alright affiliate itself, for whatever reason, to any political party.
The ZCTU has remained relevant and important to the country thus far simply because it has maintained a non-partisan stance, which is why people like the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai had to leave the organisation to form the Movement for Democratic Change. Similarly, Father Zimbabwe — as Nkomo was affectionately known, had to relinquish his trade union leadership in the then Rhodesia Railways Workers Union to form the National Democratic Party in 1960.
We, therefore, wish to advise those at the ZCTU to follow suit if they so wish to drabble in politics because the spirit of trade unionism is lost once one gets involved in politics. Members of trade unions have such rich and diverse political backgrounds that it would be foolhardy for anyone leading an umbrella union such as the ZCTU to take sides with any party political party.
There are unions, in our lifetime, that were formed with a clear and aligned agenda supporting certain political parties and they hardly made an impact because of this. So it is not in the ZCTU’s best interests to be aligning itself to any particular political outfit.
Division is the last thing the ZCTU needs at the moment because there are really grave issues currently facing labour in this country that call for a united front for the workers to weather the storm of poor salaries and rising cost of living amid clear profiteering by many employers who continue offering workers piecemeal increases.
It would be sad for the ZCTU to let all its affiliates leave just like that because it would now be very difficult for the workers to speak with one voice and as the old adage says: “United we stand, divided we fall.”