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Weekend congress reveals ZCTU threatened by membership carnage
02/10/2016 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
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THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) now has a new leadership but faces an uncertain future following a fast depleting membership base attributed to current economic hardships.

The country’s largest trade union group held its congress at the weekend where current Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union president (ZIBAWU) Peter Mutasa replaced George Nkiwane as president.

However, it has emerged the once powerful workers group had its new executive voted into their positions by only eight out of its 34 affiliate groups after the rest could not afford membership subscriptions.

Monthly membership subscriptions for ZCTU are only 35 cents per head.

Mutasa told NewZimbabwe.com this was due to the current economic crisis.

“The constitution only allows paid up unions in terms of affiliation fees to vote,” Mutasa said, adding that others were only able to take part in other processes other than elections.

Mutasa said some unions have lost membership due to retrenchments while some of those still employed were not paid, thereby affecting their subscriptions.

“Some unions may be financially strained and they may not have prioritised paying their subscriptions; so it’s a mixed bag," Mutasa said.

He denied the ZCTU has hit rock bottom adding that what is happening at the union was reflective of the country’s broader economic situation.

“We can’t say ZCTU as an institution is decimated. It may have lost some membership and part of its yesteryear glory and vibrancy but it is still a formidable force, very intact and we still have our regional structures, district structures functioning properly,” he said, adding that his executive's new mandate was to unite workers under ZCTU and draw more membership from a ballooning informal sector.

“We were tasked to improve our union density and to unite workers under one independent and vibrant federation,” he said.

The ZCTU, in 1999, was among the groups that formed the MDC and has kept its relations with the main opposition.

But Mutasa refused to say whether the ZCTU congress ever took a position to maintain open relations with MDC.

“ZCTU is an umbrella body for workers who come from different political parties. What we will stand on is on the ideals, values and aspirations of workers," he said.


“So we are going to ensure that we defend the workers’ civil and political rights.

“We are going to be very, very visible on the political arena but championing the cause of workers and the general citizens. I don’t think at this point we were mandated to support a political party per se but to support Zimbabweans and workers in particular.”

On the impending introduction of bond notes, Mutasa said the workers were not happy with the policy, saying workers still had bad memories of the 2008 era when savings and pensions were wiped off by hyper -inflation.

Meanwhile, the new ZCTU first vice president is Florence Takawira, who the women’s chairperson at Energy Workers Union of Zimbabwe while John Chirenda, from Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Workers Union.


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