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By SIQOBILE LUPAHLA- Political and Human Rights Activist

To patriotic Zimbabweans who are eager for change, the split of the ZCTU makes very sad reading. It is a development that bodes ill for a nation that has had more than its fair share of affliction inflicted on it by a coterie of self-imposed Mafia-type rulers, from which torment she has tried in vain to break free. Whichever way one looks at it, this is a heart-rending upshot for numerous reasons, not least of which is the fact that it comes at that decisive time when, after a long drawn-out struggle, victory is within reach and the euphoria is high. Everything is going to plan and we are on course to wriggle out of the clutches of the oppressors, and then wham! – Something goes terribly wrong.  

The result is that the ZCTU has been splintered and opportunistic opposition political leaders are reportedly circling the smaller faction of the bruised body like vultures, hoping to claim some spoils and cash in on the fall-out. On the other hand Zanu-PF is mulling a masterstroke that will pulverise the MDC-T by converting the furore into ammunition used against the popular party, using whatever way.

Fortunately the depressing outcome is not irreversible. It is highly improbable that the length and breath of Zimbabwe would fail to yield individuals who can mediate between the two warring sides, re-establish rapport and bring back order and sanity to the country’s biggest workers’ movement, averting a potentially disastrous situation and restoring the integrity of the movement in the process.

Ideally what should have happened is that the MDC-T, which arguably stands to gain from the unity of the ZCTU more that any other party, and which enjoys the respect of the union, should have made efforts to reconcile the two factions during the infancy stages of the squabbles and nip the setback in the bud. There would be nothing wrong with that because it is an open secret that the body is aligned to the MDC-T. Besides, is Tsvangirai not supposed to have an emotional attachment to the workers’ movement, having been its leader and having been propelled into politics by it, and is Zanu-PF not openly aligned to a counterfeit form of the ZCTU?

The MDC might reason that one splinter group is insignificant in terms of the numbers involved, meaning that the damage it will inflict will be negligible, if any. For that reason the party may feel that the matter is not worth pursuing because the disgruntled faction is shooting itself in the foot, and will stumble and fall not far down the road.

The danger posed by the group is not what it is capable of doing per se, but what it can achieve for Zanu-PF when that party’s notorious spin doctors manage to rope them over to their side. They can be used as a source of inside information which can be used to destabilise both the bigger ZCTU faction and the MDC-T party. There are many other ways in which they can be used to undermine both the ZCTU and the MDC

Another reason why the MDC-T should step in is that a fissure such as this will cost it in ballots. At a time when Zimbabwe is preparing to go to the polls every vote counts, especially when one of the contestants is an inveterate vote-rigger in the form of Zanu-PF. With the most recent opinion polls forecasting a more-than-comfortable win for MDC-T with 66% of the votes, it can be tempting for the party to feel that if they lose a few votes it will not make a difference. Unfortunately the ‘few’ votes add up. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, so the saying goes.

The MDC-T should seek to reconcile the two factions of the ZCTU. It should look at the root cause of the problem and impress upon the individuals concerned the need to stay on course and beware of being derailed by hatchet men on Zanu-PF’s payroll. It may be a daunting prospect, but for the sake of the country every effort should be made to deny Zanu-PF a foothold in the affairs of the ZCTU