The launching of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Zambia (COTUZ) is welcome and the Rainbow Party wishes to congratulate the COTUZ leadership and its respective sponsoring trade unions for the achievement.
The Zambian workers need and deserve stronger representation under these severe economic hardships they are facing. COTUZ will definitely add value and depth to the workers daily struggle for better livelihoods and a fair society.
Over the past 25 years, Zambian workers have lost a significant part of their voice and capacity for militancy. They are no longer a prime force of societal change. They are no longer setting the social–economic agenda of this country. They are no longer a united force in the fight against economic exploitation and social injustice. Neoliberal capitalism has worked hard to weaken organised labour, literally forcing it into submission. The very ideology of capitalism that dehumanises and enslaves workers is apologetically embraced. A radical ideological shift is therefore required if organised labour is to remain relevant to the interests of the workers. Socialism is the only answer to a critical understanding of the working class misery in contemporary Zambia. The Rainbow Party stands ready to share its insights with trade unions on the class struggle in Zambia and why the working class has to take a leading role in defining the roadmap for a better Zambia.
Of course we are equally concerned about fragmentation of the working class cause. COTUZ is now the third national federation. Yet the Zambian labour force has remained stagnant for decades. COTUZ will therefore have to compete with the other existing national federations for a relatively stagnant membership base. The economic viability of the federations will be harder to achieve. Coming up with a unified working class stance on critical national issues will also take longer, if not harder. Similarly, the multiplicity of national federations offers the government an opportunity for a “divide and rule” opportunity that will further weaken the militancy and democratic governance in the federations.
Despite these concerns, the Rainbow Party is happy about the new federation. The speech by the COTUZ president, Joe Kamutumwa, during the launch last Saturday, embraced courage and patriotism. We wish COTUZ a successful start as it embarks on this great cause for the Zambian workers.