The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has invited Zanu PF and MDC Alliance politicians but skipped former Vice President Joice Mujuru and MDC-T faction leader Thokozani Khupe who has declared herself legitimate head of the main opposition.
ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo told NewZimbabwe.com Thursday they were not aware Khupe now had her own political party.
Zimbabwe’s beleaguered workforce will on 1 May congregate in 20 centres in the country to mark the annual Workers Day celebrations.
Among those invited for the main celebrations in Harare’s Dzivarasekwa Stadium is a Zanu PF representative and the MDC Alliance led by Chamisa.
The workers group has also invited MPs from both Zanu PF and MDC, the country’s labour minister, diplomats, NGOs and faith based organisations.
However, conspicuous from the list of those invited are Khupe and Mujuru, among some prominent political figures in the country.
Khupe recently split from the main opposition citing both gender and tribal victimisation by the mainstream MDC-T led by lawyer co-VP and former Nelson Chamisa he accuses of stampeding her out of contention for party’s top job following the February death of substantive leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
She has adamantly declared herself legitimate party leader and has gone on to convene an elective congress which has confirmed her “MDC-T President”.
But the ZCTU could have waded into the MDC-T leadership feud Thursday through apparent siding with the Chamisa led group after Moyo said he did not know of any opposition led by Khupe.
“I don’t know whether Khupe has got a party because these are new developments. I still have to check with my office whether Khupe has a recognised political formation.
“I don’t think when the decision (invitations) was made there was a party called Khupe’s party. I don’t think so.”
Moyo said Mujuru was also omitted from the list as her party did not have sitting MPs in the current parliament from which most of those invited were drawn from.
“They are not in the list. The rational is to invite those that are represented in parliament,” said the ZCTU chief.
The country’s labour group’s links with the MDC-T started during the opposition’s formation in 1999 when some of its senior leaders, most prominent among them, Tsvangirai, left it to form what would later become the most formidable political opposition since independence.
But continued splits in the MDC have seen the country’s major workers group confronted with the invidious situation of having to choose who to invite among the opposition’s factions.
The group has however stayed with the mainstream MDC formerly led by Tsvangirai and now under Chamisa.
Meanwhile, the recent nurses strike that saw the summary dismissal of nearly 6 000 health staff will likely be the biggest rallying point among the country’s beleaguered workers during next week’s commemorations.
The theme of this year’s celebrations is “We are in a crossroads – arise, organize, do not mourn”.
Moyo said the phrasing of the theme was informed by the workers’ dire situation which has been worsened by a struggling economy.
“We are saying we are faced with various challenges which include unemployment, economic challenges, unfavourable labour laws and political uncertainty ahead of elections,” Moyo said, adding that Zimbabwean workers were being unsettled by alleged attempts by the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration to decimate trade unionism in order to please foreign investors intimidated by the country’s tough labour laws.