By Alois Vinga
President Emmerson Mnangagwa seems to have extended an olive branch to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) through a surprise invitation to the hostile workers group to attend the official Independence Day commemorations this Sunday.
ZCTU fell out with government at the turn of the century when its leaders formed the nucleus of MDC during its formation.
The party would later become a big force which has loosened Zanu PF’s octopus grip on Zimbabwean politics.
ZCTU has never disguised its allegiance to MDC and has been involved in several confrontational episodes with the ruling authority over poor wages while also resisting destructive policies such as the 2016 reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar.
ZCTU leaders have also been arrested in the past years and charged with subversion.
However, Mnangagwa has set the tone for a thaw in relations through the invitation.
“The government of Zimbabwe requests you to attend the 41st anniversary of independence to be held at State House on Sunday 18 April 2021,” the invitation read.
Reacting to the development, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said the workers union appreciated government’s apparent overtures.
“We are therefore happy that the government through the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare invited us to the main event.
“Due to the stringent conditions including that only those who have been vaccinated would be allowed in, the ZCTU will be sending one of our leaders who meet the criteria to represent us,” he said.
Labour Minister Paul Mavima told NewZimbabwe.com that the invitations are not spectacular in a way and must be seized as an opportunity to reflect as citizens.
“We have ZCTU in the Tripartite Negotiation Forum. Independence is a national event that we should celebrate together without regard to individual political affiliation.
“So, the invitation of the labour movement to national events should not be a spectacular event, but one that should just be a matter of course,” he said.
Mutasa however called on government officials to use the commemorations to reflect on the plight of millions of the country’s working class who feel that those in government have clearly abandoned the open principles that informed the liberation struggle, saying workers continued to earn “slave” wages.