MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa met the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leadership at the labour body’s offices at Gorlon House in Harare this Monday ostensibly to establish synergies with the labour body which is credited with birthing the opposition party 19 years ago.
Chamisa, who was accompanied by his deputy Elias Mudzuri and other senior party officials, was reportedly seeking to win the support of the country’s biggest labour representative body ahead of general elections slated for between July and August this year.
Sources said the meeting was, among other things, aimed at “re-synergizing relations between the country’s biggest opposition party and the working people” which existed at the formation of the MDC in 1999.
ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo confirmed the meeting which was also attended by former trade union leaders now in the MDC-T leadership.
“As you know as the labour centre, we have a membership from a diverse section of the population and, obviously, our members come from different political parties,” said Moyo.
“So, we were sharing notes on their (MDC-T’s) party programmes. They might end up in government so from time to time we, as ZCTU, want to find out what policy they have on labour.”
Moyo said they had also discussed the MDC Alliance, an opposition election coalition, with the ZCTU looking to establish whether it was also open to other stakeholders such as labour, people living with disabilities and faith-based groups among others.
Responding to suggestions that the labour body had sought a quota for its members to stand as parliamentary and local authority candidates, Moyo said the ZCTU had not reached any agreement on candidates.
The ZCTU boss said the labour body had only sought to understand the scope of the alliance, adding that they had not demanded any favours.
“ZCTU did not put forward any demands, we merely shared notes. If there is need for organized labour to demand seats from any political party, that time will come.
“As you are aware, our membership is from different parties, so if our demands stop with the MDC-T, we will have problems.”
Moyo said ZCTU activists did not need any special favours as they were trained by the labour body and could stand on their own in any election.
“Our activists are capable enough to stand the heat. They have been capacitated over the years and have become community leaders on their own; there is no need for affirmative action.
Defending the vote
“In fact, we have a number of them who came to see us with the MDC; we did not parachute them to those positions, they were capable to stand and be counted and we hope our activists will continue to lift the ZCTU flag high.”
Moyo said they had also discussed what strategies the MDC-T had put in place to defend the vote of the people considering that past elections had not reflected the will of the people.
“As you are aware, elections in the past have not reflected the will of the people and we wanted to find out what they have in place to defend the vote or aspirations of the people because people can vote and lose interest so they (MDC-T) should be able to tell us how they hope to protect the vote.”
The ZCTU boss said Chamisa and his team, who have also met with war veterans, the church and traditional leaders, were “doing a great thing by meeting with various stakeholders”, adding that the ruling Zanu PF did not take labour seriously and wanted to delegate non-decision makers to gatherings with them.
“I think they (Chamisa and his team) are doing it better than the others. We can hold them accountable tomorrow; they are doing a great thing by meeting the people.
“Those in power don’t want to meet us; they want us to meet with the Ministry of Labour, which is a useless structure.”