Monday, September 24, 2007
By Lambwe Kachali
Monday September 24, 2007 [04:00]
FEDERATION of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) vice president Joe Kamutumwa on Friday charged that the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was seeking an alliance with the ruling MMD. But ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba said his organisation was politically neutral. In an interview, Kamutumwa said ZCTU would not address workers’ problems if it continued being a puppet of the government.
Kamutumwa said he had received many complaints from ZCTU’s former affiliate members, saying the problems they were facing in the organisation had not been addressed.
Kamutumwa cited the recent decision by ZCTU to ‘escort’ government in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) as one example of betraying workers’ interests in the constitution-making process.
He accused ZCTU of scheming a political manoeuvre with MMD.
“These include lack of internal democracy in ZCTU and a scheme for political alliance with the ruling class when resolving workers’ problems thereby betraying the interest of workers,” Kamutumwa said.
He said such problems had contributed to the failure of the two organisations from merging.
“ZCTU was formed by the Act of parliament at independence in 1964 as a mass organisation affiliated to the ruling party and its government to promote labour productivity under a one party participatory democracy. But FFTUZ was formed by workers to bargain for improved social and economic conditions of workers after privatisation and liberalisation of the Zambian economy under multiparty democracy,” Kamutumwa said.
“So, these ideologies are not easy to reconcile in the proposed merger with ZCTU especially now when private capital is taking a leading role in economic development of our country with the subjectivity of international representation.”
Kamutumwa said the existing independence in the two organisations was cardinal in the promotion of economic and social interests of workers.
“We wish to clarify that there is no directive to merge between ZCTU and FFTUZ because of the merger of the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) with the International Confederation of Trades Unions (ICFTU),” Kamutumwa said. “This is because the new International Trade Unions Confederation recognises divergent ideological backgrounds of trade union national centres some of whom have Christian orientation while others are socialist or have a communist background.”
But Hikaumba said Kamutumwa should not politicise the issues because they had already been discussed.
Hikaumba said it was important that Kamutumwa accommodated divergent views when resolving matters of national interest.
“We tabled the matter and it was discussed. Being in support of NCC does not mean we are seeking political alliance with the ruling MMD. Kamutumwa should mind that we are in a democratic country where people think differently. If he (Kamutumwa) wants us to subscribe to his thinking then he is dictatorial. As far as ZCTU is concerned, there is enough democracy and we will never be in favour of any political line,” Hikaumba said. On the issue of merging, Hikaumba said it was evident that the two mother bodies had different opinions on issues affecting their general membership.
“We cannot force FFTUZ to merge with us. They are an independent body, so is ZCTU. If they have resolved not to be part of us, it’s a good idea,” Hikaumba said.
“In fact, we were just waiting for their position because to us, we had no problems with it. Our priority is to serve the general public effectively.”