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Zimbabwe Prime Minister Tsvangirai Appeals for Labor Movement Unity

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday castigated divisions within the labor movement that catapulted him to political status saying leadership wrangles were hurting efforts to address the plight of workers.

Speaking at Workers' Day celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare, Mr. Tsvangirai said he was unhappy the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the main umbrella body for labor unions in the country, had split into factions.

One faction is led by George Nkiwane and the other by Lovemore Matombo. The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions has also split into two following leadership wrangles.

Mr. Tsvangirai urged the labor leaders to bury their differences and unite for the sake of the workers.

He said while factions may be associated with politics, "it is certainly not in the interest of the workers of Zimbabwe to have a divided leadership claiming to represent their interest".

"I therefore hope that common sense will prevail because it is in the interest of workers for the country’s largest labor body in the country, the ZCTU, to be one united entity," said Mr. Tsvangirai.

The Prime Minister, though calling for unity, snubbed all the other labor union factions, choosing to attend celebrations organized by the Nkiwane ZCTU faction, which he said was the legitimate umbrella body for labor unions in the country.

"I hope that dialogue will be speeded up so that the workers of this country will speak with one strong voice through a united body," he said.

The Matombo faction of the ZCTU, which held its activities in the Harare Gardens, castigated Mr. Tsvangirai for taking sides in the ZCTU's wrangles that blighted Tuesday’s activities to mark workers' day.

Faction secretary general Raymond Majongwe said the Tsvangirai MDC formation should intervened only to help solve the dispute within the ZCTU and not to endorse one group over the other.

In his speech, Matombo said his union will fight for workers to get better salaries that are in line with the Poverty Datum Line.

Acting director Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, who attended the Matombo worker celebrations, said political leaders in the country should help resolve differences affecting the ZCTU.

Meanwhile many in the country were concerned that infighting continues within the ZCTU and the ZFTU.

Analysts have described the prevailing situation as being bleak for the long-suffering Zimbabwean workers as they marked labor day divided more than ever.

In its May Day message ZANU-PF's said the party continued to champion the interests of the workers by insisting on decent salaries for workers, adding the former ruling party has created more employers through land reform and the indigenization program.

The main faction of the ZFTU led by Alfred Makwarimba, marked labor day with activities in Chiredzi, Masvingo province, where workers were addressed by deputy Labor Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and some top ZANU-PF officials.

The other faction led by Jacob Gwavava was at the Mbare Netball Complex in Harare.
Secretary General Kennias Shamuyarira of the Makwarimba ZFTU told VOA's Jonga Kandemiiri that the indigenization drive was not benefiting skilled workers.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe said divisions within the labor unions were disadvantaging workers.