(By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone)
ABOUT 11 unions have threatened to pull out of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions and form another workers’ federation, says Judicial and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (JAWUZ) president Peter Mwale.
Meanwhile, Chishimba Nkole has retained the ZCTU presidency unopposed after Mwale was disqualified.
Speaking after a heated ZCTU nomination process which almost derailed the 15th quadrennial congress at the ZAF Officers Mess on Thursday, Mwale accused Labour Commissioner Chanda Kaziya of abrogating the laws of Zambia by disqualifying some trade unions from contesting the ZCTU elections.
“We met all the criteria. The grounds the Labour Commissioner said [to disqualify us] are flimsy and unfounded. They will haunt him and what will happen is that all of us from here we are going to petition these elections because they are not fair and have been done in bad faith. We can’t allow unions to be intimidated like this,” he said.
“That is why I have said that the Ministry of Labour has gone to the dogs. I have said that several times, they are biased, they want unions that are eating with them…we don’t want the situation where we have to eat with politicians so as to be pleased. This is why we are going to petition these results and if that does not work out, we are going to pull out of the ZCTU. We are going to form our own federation. They are getting a lot of money from us.”
Mwale named the unions that were disqualified from contesting the ZCTU positions as the Bankers Union of Zambia, Meat and Grain Workers Union, Gemstone Mines, Construction Union, National Union of Airways, Commercial and Allied, Secondary School Teachers Union and Technical Workers Union.
Others are the Standards and Bureau Union, Zambia Graphics Union, Security and Allied Workers Union of Zambia, Health and Allied Workers Union of Zambia and JAWUZ.
However, the Labour Commissioner said on April 4, he wrote all unions to avail him the audited financial reports and that the organisations should also hold quadrennial congresses.
“The one-million-dollar question is that did they bring the financial reports and hold the quadrennial congresses? The others did, some did not because they have skeletons. They have misused workers’ funds, that is why they can’t comply,” Kaziya said. “We even sent reminders to some of them so that they should bring financial reports because the law provides that every year they should submit audited financial reports to the Labour Commissioner.”
He said another reason the unions failed to submit their reports was that they were scared that if they did so, their members would not have accepted.
“So the easiest way is to use scare tactics so that they say that the State machinery is compromised, accusing us that we are corrupt and that the state machinery has moved in,” Kaziya said. “But we will not give in, we will enforce the law. They want us to ignore the law so that the resources for the workers are not placed where they need to be.”
He accused Mwale of not having meetings with his executive in the judicial union.
“Right now he is the only one who gets money, the whole executive members don’t. He has no structures in the districts. Now he wants to pretend to be the champion of other unions…. We know where he was before and the amounts of money he has amassed this time,” Kaziya said. “It is a disaster and others like SESTUZ have not held quadrennial congresses. The five of them sit down and extend their mandates. Which law allows that they should do that? Their constitution may allow that but the supreme law does not allow that.”
Kaziya said the decision to pull out of ZCTU was a union’s right but added that even if they did, they needed to comply with the law.
Kaziya announced that two ZCTU deputy presidents, Newman Bubala and Manson Mtambo, were also unopposed but had to be subjected to a vote to determine who becomes the first and second deputy president.
After the elections, Bubala was elected first deputy president after polling 120 votes against Mtambo’s 78. Eleven votes were spoilt.
For the position of national trustees, seven candidates contested out of the initial 11.
Catherine Chinunda polled 170 votes, Gertrude Chikuta received 142, Kingsley Zulu (121) and Tisa Chiponda got 103 votes to be duly elected.
Mable Ngula Zulu, Michelo Chizyuka, and Willa Mulabika lost the elections after polling 94, 87 and 80 votes respectively.