TRADE unionists should desist from the temptation of actively participating in politics, Zambia Congress of Trade Unions ((ZCTU) secretary general Cosmas Mukuka has advised.
Mr. Mukuka said in an interview in Kabwe that while it was evident that the labour movement was a strong agent of change in Zambian politics, it is important for affiliates to stay away especially at a time when the country was heading towards crucial general elections in August.
“It is evident the trade unions played important roles in the independence of Zambia, we were there during the campaign for multipartyism, we also took a strong stance against the third term bid by then President Chiluba but for now we must concentrate on the core business, which is labour politics,” he said.
And asked on the perceived victimisation of civil servants participating in politics, Mr. Mukuka put the blame on parties that form government who have a tendency of appointing civil servants into political jobs.
“We should blame political parties that have formed government because they appoint civil servants,” he stated. And the labour leader said that The ZCTU was studying manifestoes of political parties to assess what various groupings stood for on various matters because ZCTU had affiliates from different walks of life. He called for issue-based campaigns among political contestants as they campaigned. Mr. Mukuka was in Kabwe for the second quadrennial conference of the Judiciary and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (JAWUZ).
Meanwhile, the conference which opened on Friday was stopped by police for allegedly not adhering to the Public Order Act provisions.
But JAWUZ president Peter Mwale and the delegates expressed dissatisfaction with the police action, saying it was ultra vires. He insisted that the gathering was for members to express interests on matters that concern them.
“We are very unhappy with this sad development because we have been here for the last two days and we were just in the process of winding up. The police just came abruptly and that is why when we speak against this law people think we are partisan,” Mr. Mwale said.
He said the meetings that they held were guided by the Industrial Relations and Labour Act and that last time they had a similar meeting without notifying the police.
The over 140 delegates were drawn from all parts of the country under the theme “Enhancing social justice in the Zambian judicial sector, through trade union growth and solidarity”.
And Central Province police command confirmed the disruption of the conference.