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Fierce Leadership Battle Roils Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

  • Jonga Kandemiiri
  • Chris Gande

ZCTU sources said two factions are battling to control the confederation, one backing incumbent President Lovemore Matombo, the other favoring First Vice President Lucia Matibenga

A no-holds-barred struggle to claim leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's main labor federation, has spilled into the courts.

High Court Justice Susan Mavhangira said she will rule Thursday on an application by the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe and seven other unions seeking to bar a Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions congress set for Friday.

The eight unions approached the court Monday charging that out-going Secretary General Wellington Chibebe nominated individuals with no affiliation to the trade union confederation to vote at the congress, among other alleged abuses.

Mavhangira on Monday dismissed papers filed by complainants led by PTUZ General Secretary Raymond Majongwe, saying they did not concern urgent matters.

ZCTU sources said two factions are battling to control the confederation, one backing incumbent President Lovemore Matombo, the other favoring First Vice President Lucia Matibenga. Matombo and Matibenga are tipped to battle it out for the presidency.

The pro-Matombo faction is led by Majongwe, while the faction supporting Matibenga is closely aligned with former Secretary General Chibebe.

Chibebe is expected to officially step down shortly to take up a position with the International Trade Union Confederation in Brussels.

Former Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions general council member and Restoration of Human Rights President Ephraim Tapa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that it will be a tragedy for workers if the ZCTU fractures because of power struggles.

Commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said Matibenga, a member of the national executive of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai - himself a former secretary general of the trade union, which spun off the MDC in 1999 - should withdraw her bid to to ensure politics does not undermine the union.

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