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In May Day Solidarity, Zimbabwe's NCA Urges Workers to Reject Draft Charter

Zimbabwe's constitutional reform movement, the National Constitutional Assembly has urged workers to take the lead in rejecting the new draft constitution due for a referendum later this year, arguing the proposed charter does not reflect majority will.

In a solidarity statement ahead of Workers' Day Tuesday, the NCA said the working class should stand up and demand a fair shake, including better salaries and improved working conditions.

The group, which campaigns for a people-driven constitution also criticized the government for running down the economy and relegating the majority of workers to levels of abject poverty.

Way behind schedule, the draft charter is under negotiation by the unity partners, hard-pressed to reach agreement on several issues, including devolution of power, dual citizenship, and the number of vice presidents the country should have.

"Workers should take a lead in rejecting the imposition of a negotiated document between the two MDCs and ZANU-PF that COPAC intends to present to the public as the proposed draft constitution," said spokesman Madock Chivasa.

But secretary-general, Japhet Moyo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions faction led by George Nkiwane, said workers will not be influenced by the NCA.

"We said as workers that what is going to come out of the process, the product itself, will determine whether we will support it or not," said Moyo. "If the charter reflects what the people were saying during the chaotic information-gathering, and people accept it, who are we to oppose that?"

Both formations of the ZCTU have, meanwhile, scheduled different May Day events in Harare. The Nkiwane faction will be at Gwanzura stadium, while the one led by Lovemore Matombo will hold its festivities at Harare Gardens.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will attend the Nkiwane event, said MDC organizing secretary, Nelson Chamisa.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, leader of the rival MDC wing issued a statement urging government to pull out all the stops and address worker concerns.

"The MDC believes the absence of sincere engagement with workers in government decision-making processes deprives the nation of the best ideas that will bring positive change to our economic circumstances," he said.

"We therefore, demand the resumption of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum. We are convinced that only through honest engagement can the national economic woes we face be abated."