03 August 2009: Zimbabwe Trade Union Chief Blasts Tsvangirai. Again

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General, told journalists in Chinhoyi this last week that the presence of the MDC-Tsvangirai in government has not improved the lot of workers at all. He says the Union reserves the right to withdraw its support of the MDC-T

Harare, Zimbabwe, 03 August 2009

Wellington Chibhebhe, Secretary General of Zimbabwe's massive Trade Union grouping known as the ZCTU, told an audience of journalists in Chinhoyi that the presence of the MDC-T in government has done nothing to improve the lot of Zimbabwe's struggling workers, saying:

"We reserve the right to withdraw our support (for the MDC-T)".

Chibhebhe echoed a sentiment I have repeatedly expressed saying:

"It's a question of priorities. Money to provide three vehicles to each minister following the formation of the so-called Inclusive Government was easily made available. Why don't we share the burden of the economic hardships?"

Chibhebhe made it clear that the guiding principle for the ZCTU was the best interest of the worker and that if any party, no matter how related to ZCTU, departs from this principle, then the labour body would instantly dump it.

Saying that the MDC-T is not leading by example, he castigated the opposition party for what was agreed with regards to the constitution at its formation. The MDC, as it was then known before given Tsvangirai's surname as it own surname, agreed with all its civil society partners that the constitutional process had to be people-driven.

A surprising comment from Chibhebhe was his announcement that the ZCTU was prepared to work with the ZFTU (Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions) to advance the cause of workers. He says overtures have been made by the ZFTU executive.

The ZFTU was formed by Mugabe and ZANU PF specifically to counter the massive support that the ZCTU had amongst workers.

In my opinion, this only serves to underline a fierce pursuit of the vision of the leaders of the ZCTU. Their focus remains on workers and they are willing to bend over backwards to ensure that they justify the subscriptions paid every month by workers to the Union.

That they would consider with ZFTU, considering the circumstances of its short history (the ZFTU was led in the first instance by Joseph Chinotimba, self-styled Commander of Zimbabwe's Land Invasions) speaks volumes about their single-minded focus.

Tsvangirai and his party, meantime, seem content with the posts they have and content to give as much ground as Mugabe demands.

The MDC-T are now politicians, no longer activists. The ZCTU, meantime, remains an activist movement and with the way things are going, I doubt very much that the two remain twinned for very long.

Which would spell doom for the MDC-T, because Trade Unionists tend to go with what their leaders decide. With such focus on the welfare of the worker from the leadership, their loyalty is understandable.


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