Monday, 12 March 2018

UPROAR OVER APEX COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Cracks have emerged in the Apex Council, an umbrella body for civil servants in salary negotiations, with some unions seeking the nullification of elections held last month.

The elections being contested saw Public Service Association (PSA) president Mrs Cecilia Alexander being re-elected as the council’s chairperson for another two years.

Other members from the old leadership were retained, save for the vice chair post which the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe lost to the Zimbabwe Teachers Association of Zimbabwe.
PTUZ, which controls a huge chunk of civil servants together with ZIMTA, is now seeking nullification of the elections, saying they were unfairly treated.

Another union, Professional and Technical Officers Association of Zimbabwe (PROTEC) claims it was “robbed” of its negotiating seat during the disputed elections.

The negotiating seat went to the Government Workers’ Association (GWA) which PROTEC said did not have a registration certificate as it is an affiliate of PSA led by Mrs Alexander.

The latest dispute comes after President Mnangagwa has appointed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes Simbarashe Mumbengegwi to administer the public service.

The workers had raised concerns over lack of effective communication between them and Government following the movement of the civil service to the Office of the President and Cabinet.
PTUZ said the February 22 elections were held in a shambolic manner.

“The elections were stage-managed to evict PTUZ and PROTEC for allegedly undermining Mrs Alexander in every meeting Apex Council held,” said the union’s programmes officer, Mr Ladistous Zunde.

“On the day of the elections, it was agreed that the entire committee be retained, but the plotters unashamedly went on to nominate a different candidate altogether for the post of vice-chair. There was also a serious departure from tradition where education sector and rest of civil service would alternate to chair Apex Council.

“Since the outgoing chair was from the rest of civil service, the education sector was naturally supposed to take over the chairmanship. It is shameful for Mrs Alexander to cling to power when she fully knows her term of office expired and has to pass the baton to the next person.”
Mr Zunde said Apex Council must reconvene and hold proper elections.

Responding on behalf of the Apex Council, the body’s secretary, Mr David Dzatsunga, said the elections were above board.

“Every union was represented and on the day no one queried the process and it is difficult to think that these complaints are genuine,” he said.

“Elections were held only that most posts were not contested. To support this, you will see that some members were retained, but now have new posts. As for PROTEC, its official Rumbidzai Matare presided over the elections and it is surprising she is rubbishing the process.”
In a letter to Mrs Alexander, PROTEC said the elections should be reversed.

“Government Workers’ Association (GWA) is an association registered under Public Service Association (PSA) and is not an independent union, more so it does not have a registration certificate in its name,” the union wrote.

“Therefore, it’s considered a PSA affiliate and does not have the right to acquire a substantive negotiating post in Apex Council. Government Workers’ Association is not mandated to have a seat because in this case it’s already held by PSA. It is only right for PROTEC to be considered and given back the seat, which in this case was robbed from it by GWA, which serves to be a replica of PSA.”
PROTEC said it would apply for a court interdict if the elections were not reversed in 48 hours.
Government has previously indicated that it will only engage a properly constituted Apex Council at the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC), a platform that brings the two parties together. Herald

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