Lungu’s silence on tension worrying – ZCTU

The Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) says President Edgar Lungu’s failure to address the nation on the security situation in the country is worrying.

And ZCTU says it has taken a strong stand against Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 because it did not have the workers’ interests at heart.

Meanwhile, ZCTU says government should develop and promote a gender-oriented skills development strategy.

Speaking during the official opening of the capacity building workshop on trade union strategies for organizing informal economy workers in Chisamba, Tuesday, ZCTU deputy secretary general Elaston Njobvu said the union was saddened that President Lungu has not addressed the nation on
the happenings.

“ZCTU is deeply concerned about the state of the nation whose security is seriously under threat from criminals gassing citizens. We condemn the on-going cases of gassing innocent members of the public resulting into serious injuries and death. This is unacceptable. As a labor movement, we cannot remain silent but talk about it. We are saying the State must protect its citizens because in this country, we have enjoyed peace since independence. Zambia has been known as a beacon of peace and it must remain that way for edges and for years to come. But we are seeing a trend in this country which is leading us to violence and violence will bring war if we are not careful. What is happening at the moment puts the security of the nation at risk as our workers are unable to report for work due to fear of being attacked. We have some of our workers who report for work at 22:00 hours and some knock off around midnight. We have received some reports that some of our members are being harassed by citizens on suspicion that they are involved in gassing and this has really affected the labour productivity because of the insecurity that is going on in the country,” Njobvu said.

“As ZCTU, we would like to condemn first and foremost, the people behind the gassing. We would like to call upon the investigative wings of this nation to act quickly. The whole scheme started in Chingola and has spread across the country and it has taken close to two months
and we are asking and wondering that, where is defense and security in this country? What is happening and why are they not telling us? What is going on? We can’t allow this situation like this when we have defense and security. We are wondering, why the President has remained quiet and failed to address the nation on the happenings? We want to urge the government of President Edgar Lungu to take action because this is a matter of State security. We are saddened to note that up until now, we did not hear from the President (Lungu) address the nation. This calls for concern and we continue to wonder what kind of intelligence we have in this country such that the State is failing to address the nation over the whole issue. This country has been peaceful and shall and should continue to be peaceful. So we would like to hear from President Lungu as soon as possible.”

And ZCTU said it had taken a strong stand against Bill 10 which proposes to scrap off Clause2 of Article Number 189 of the 2016 Constitution Amendment.

“We have taken a strong stand against the Constitution Amendment Bill 10 which proposes to scrap off Clause2 of Article Number 189 of the 2016 Constitution Amendment. This Clause is of special interest to the workers because it provides that once retires or separated and the retiree’s benefit are not paid promptly, the employer is obliged to keep the retiree on the payroll until such benefits are paid in full. Colleagues, there are 79 proposed Clauses in this Bill and are not progressive both in design and intent when read together with other Clauses. Surprisingly, an agenda has been set by the Ministry of Labour, and in particular the PS to mislead the nation and that ZCTU is abusing worker’s money to fight Bill 10. This is appalling because the PS must take a neutral position on political matters as a civil servant. Bill 10 fails to take care of the interest of workers and the nation as a whole,” he said.

Meanwhile, ZCTU said government should develop and promote a gender-oriented skills development strategy.

“May I take this opportunity to implore government to incentivize the formalization of work, there is need for authorities to focus on strategies that facilitates, on one hand, the adherence of companies to employment laws and regulations, and on the other hand, encourage
the informal economy to migrate to the formal economy. Further, we wish to call up on government to develop and promote a gender-oriented skills development strategy. This strategy and other productivity enhancement programs among informal economy workers and businesses would help to address several decent work deficits in the country,” said Njovu.

And International Labour Organisation Officer Dr Mohamed Mwanmazingo said the workshop would provide a platform for trade union members to discuss the future relationship between trade union and the informal economy.

“Colleagues, ZCTU has organized this workshop to discuss their role in transforming the informal economy based on the theory and empirical evidence. This workshop will provide a platform for trade union members to discuss the future relationship between trade union and the informal economy,” said Dr Mwanmazingo.

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