CHIREDZI – May Day celebrations collapsed at Chishamiso Stadium in Chiredzi on Monday after disgruntled workers booed and heckled their union leaders who they accused of dabbling in Zanu PF politics.
Leaders of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) and Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers' Union (ZISMIWU) were forced to leave the stage after boos and whistles from the workers drowned their voices.
Also heckled and forced off the stage was Zanu PF aspiring candidate for 2018 General Elections, Farai Musikavanhu who had said that Tongaat Hulett sugarcane fields must be given to new farmers.
Musikavanhu who is former Agricultural director at Tongaat Hulett was heckled despite that he provided a beast and 1 000kg of mealie-meal to feed workers at the celebrations.
The workers expressed their displeasure at the way union leaders were dabbling in politics at the expense of labour issues. They were also not happy that some of the Union leaders particularly at ZISMIWU were advocating for the takeover of Tongaaat Hulett estates, a move that would see 2 000 labourers losing their jobs.
First to be heckled was ZFTU Secretary General Kenias Shamhuyarira who was forced away from stage after a few minutes, then came Captain Faster Gono who is ZISMIWU secretary general and he could not complete three sentences before the heckling began again.
He gave up and asked that the workers be addressed by the Union president Lucia Chirhelele who was also booed thereby forcing the leadership to leave the stadium in a huff.
The workers also demanded the return of Freedom Madungwe, the ZISMIWU president who was suspended recently.
"A section of workers who booed and heckled us were in a drunken stupor since our venue is near a beerhall. We received food assistance from aspiring candidate Musikavanhu," said Gono.
Shamuyarira confirmed the incident and said there is need to address the leadership crisis at ZISMIWU since workers demanded the return of Madungwe.
"Get out of here, you destroyed Mkwasine and now you want to destroy Hippo Valley and Triangle which will leave us jobless" shouted angry workers.
Former ZISMIWU president Freedom Madungwe who was sidelined from the union leadership by a High Court order said the union leadership is now majoring in politics while workers are suffering.
He said he is the legitimately elected president of ZISMIWU who will continue to respect the decisions of the courts. He said the doors are still wide open to bury personal differences and push the interests of the workers first.