Government plans to host its own ceremony, presided over by the Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU).
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said some government officials were “clandestinely approaching our affiliates in Chinhoyi”, inviting them to the event.
This comes after government had officially approached the labour body, through the Labour ministry, but had been rebuffed by its General Council — the highest decision-making body outside congress.
“The ZCTU would like to make it clear that it has nothing to do with the government’s commemoration and is presently preparing for its own events,” Moyo said.
He said government’s invite “was tantamount to interfering with workers’ programmes and also meant to confuse workers of Zimbabwe,” adding “we were also suspicious of the government’s motive”.
Labour minister Priscah Mupfumira was not available for comment.
The divide between the ZCTU and government widened when the union opposed attempts by President Mugabe’s administration to introduce a one-party State in Zimbabwe in the late 1980s following the merger between Zanu PF and Zapu in 1987.
The relationship was further strained following the introduction of IMF’s Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) in 1991.
As the hardships arising from the market-based reforms deepened, government increasingly resorted to draconian measures to shore up its waning political support. As issues of governance deteriorated, the ZCTU increasingly became the torchbearer for alternative governance, then led by now MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Together with 40 other civil society groups, the ZCTU spearheaded the formation of MDC, whose top leadership came from the labour movement.
The ZCTU’s main Workers’ Day event will be held at Dzivaresekwa Stadium on May 1.