Tue, 28 Feb 2017 06:08:20 +0000


SA’s union chief is M’membe’s long-time political ally


DETAILS have emerged that National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) general secretary Irvin Jim is a long-standing ally of Fred M’membe who contributed immensely to the creation of the Rainbow Party, which was initially supposed to be a communist party.

Last week, Jim took the Zambian media by storm when he demanded for an unconditional release of Mutinta Mazoka, wife to Mr. M’membe, who was in detention for tearing a warrant of arrest issued against her husband.

But a source has told the Daily Nation that Mr. Jim and Mr. M’membe have been allies for a long time and that the two were at the centre of the formation of the Rainbow Party, an idea born out of the fact that Mr. Jim supported South Africa’s Communist Party (SACP).

The source said after failing to find serious funders for the communist ideology, the Rainbow Party abandoned its initial ideology and launched in Zambia as a socialist party after brokering financial assistance deals with some donors in Cuba.

The source said while Mr. Jim’s utterances last week caught some people unwares, there was an unwavering relationship between him and Mr. M’membe as both had political ambitions in future and were using their status to make political grounds fertile for themselves.

“Initially, the idea was to form a communist party in Zambia which would be headed by Mr. M’membe himself in future but for a start, Wynter Kabimba was used as a frontrunner but before the party was launched, financial constraints made them change the course of action and decided to change the ideologies to that of a socialist party after receiving funding from Cuba.

“The Post Newspaper did all the publicity for the Rainbow Party for free because it was solely M’membe’s baby. It was a springboard from which to test their popularity but now that it has become clear that they cannot go anywhere, M’membe has pulled out and that is why Rainbow is almost non-existent,” the source said.

In a strongly worded statement last week, Mr. Jim said his union wanted to launch a campaign to boycott Zambian goods and to end South African trade with Zambia following the arrest of Mr. M’membe’s wife, adding that the union wanted to mount a protest outside the Zambian embassy in South Africa.

But the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) rubbished Mr. Jim’s threats, saying Zambia’s labour movement had a rich and respectable history with their counterparts in South Africa and the rest of the region.

ZCTU secretary general Cosmas Mukuka said it was unacceptable for a national union as NUMSA to issue threats that were international in nature and touching on the sovereignty of another country without engaging stakeholders on the ground.

Mr. Mukuka noted that the position taken by NUMSA was in very bad taste and unacceptable in terms of how trade unions within and beyond the borders ought to co-exist especially on matters of national sovereignty and the due process of law.


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