By Own Correspondent
The Ministry of Public Service Labor and Social Welfare has reportedly called for the deregistration of a labour union which represents commercial sector workers following its failure to resolve a prolonged leadership wrangle.
The Commercial Workers Union of Zimbabwe (CWUZ) has been embroiled in these leadership fights since 2010 when it last held a legitimate congress and at one point split into 3 different factions .
Indications are that the other faction led by one interim president Ratidzai Badza made amends with another faction but are failing to make a pact with a faction led by one Jefferson Banda.
At a poorly attended Harare branch general meeting held at St Andrew House on Wednesday, it emerged that the fissures within the labor body won’t be solved anytime soon as members of the national executive revealed how the impasse has made the plight of commercial workers.
In his opening remarks ,CWUZ Harare regional officer Fumai Fumai told the delegates that the attendance was poor to have a legal meeting and asked whether the discussion could proceed .
“This is a branch general meeting for Harare region so we expect every member of CWUZ in Greater Harare to be in attendance but as we can all agree that by ‘Harare standards we are nowhere near the numbers we need for a proper meeting’.
“We expected more than 50 members to attend this meeting but the onus is on us now whether to go on with the meeting ,”said Fumai.
The meeting then continued with Fumai revealing that the factionalism within the labor body actually dates back as far as 2006 and he was part of the problem.
“We have a document there ‘Our History, Our Struggle ,Our Factionalism’ so we don’t want to shy away from this .
“I know many people think factionalism started in 2010 but it dates back as far as 2006 when it split into CWUZ 1 and CWUZ 2 .
“I was part of the faction and we have Professor Makanya who was president of the other faction here ,”chronicled Fumai .
He further says there have many court interdicts then that have made the union feeble to represent commercial sector employees.
Former national executive member Professor Makanya told the delegates that following a court ruling by Justice Benjamin Chikowero which handed back the running of the union to subscribed members ,it also plunged into crisis as it could not function because of a lack of executive members.
According to Ratidzai Badza who is now leading the other faction ,engagement meetings that ensued with the other Banda faction have not yielded anything fruitful.
“While we agreed with J Banda to unite since NEC (National Employment Council) advised us to do so, there is the need for us to remove all the court interdicts against him which is not an easy process and may take ages ,”she said.
She then revealed that Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Professor Paul Mavima issued them with a 21 day ultimatum to solve the impasse or face deregistration.
“I want to be frank with you ,we were told by the Minister that our feud has been going on for too long and he gave us 21 days to sort our house in order by uniting. Failure of which our union will be deregistered,”added Badza.
This publication contacted the Acting Registrar of Labor Unions in the Labor Ministry Ms Mungomezi ,who could neither confirm nor deny that CWUZ was given a 21 day ultimatum to unite or face deregistration.
“I can’t say anything I am sorry but you can put your questions in writing ,”Mungomezi said.
However, the impasse in CUWZ has left commercial sector workers in quandary and this writer gleaned some explosive message in one of the WhatsApp groups of the union.
“Gentlemen time yatarwa CUWZ yoga yakawanda using us as fighting zone using our money for their benefit not us we must end this if they want to continue with their wars ngavashandise mari dzavo.
“CUWZ ngaiitiudze zvinonyoreka coz tinenzara and talking doesn’t solve anything if they know kuti Havana chinobuda our union they buy time only (sic).
“Gentlemen we need answers and if you are not fully equipped its high time to be open enough to us we are tired of living in poverty whilst you give us cake nothing for how many years now(sic),”reads part of the messages.
So dire is the situation for aggrieved workers whose last Collective Bargain Action (CBA) was done in 2020 pegging the minimum wage at ZW$25 000 and most employees are still paying such a measly amount .Owing to the stand-off ,no CBA can be initiated. While the CWUZ leadership insists that the solution to the impasse lies only in it and workers have no choice but to support it, this publication has since established that a new labor union to represent commercial workers has already been formed and awaits a registration certificate.