Chibebe flies Zim flag high

Wellington Chibebe, the former Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General, continued to raise the country's flag high at the international level, earning another four year term as the Deputy General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Chibebe, who made history by becoming the first black person to land the post in 2011, was, together with fellow Deputy General Secretary, Jaap Wienen,  unopposed for the post at the 3rd ITUC World Congress held in Berlin, German, from the 18th to the 23rd of May.

Chibebe told The Worker in an interview that his re-election was a show of confidence in his work by the world trade union movement. More than 1 500 delegates attended the Berlin Congress.

He said Zimbabwe was poised to benefit from his re-engagement as he was able to articulate the country's issues well given his experience as a trade union leader in the Southern African nation where he had become a thorn in the flesh for authorities.

Antonio Felicio of CUT Brazil was elected ITUC President while Maria Fernanda Carvalho Francisco of UNTA-CS Angola and Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson of LO Sweden were elected as the ITUC Deputy Presidents.

Chibebe will be responsible for development in the 170 million member workers' movement.

"I will be responsible for development cooperation and building capacity of unions to confront  governments. I will also be responsible for the solidarity support portfolio. This means we will be supporting those unions who are under strains or under threat from their governments or face financial and political challenges," he said.

Chibebe said while he will not necessarily prioritise Zimbabwe, the country would benefit immensely from his re-election as he knows the situation on the ground.

"Having worked well with the colleagues in Zimbabwe and knowing their situation, if the Zimbabwean issue is on the table, I will be able to articulate it clearly knowing them the way I do, "he said.

Unions represented at the Congress committed to organise more than 27 million new members over the next years in an effort to build workers power and end modern day slavery, starting with Qatar.

They also committed to support a minimum wage on which workers can live with dignity and end the cycle of poverty wages in supply chains of global corporations.

Chibebe left his post as Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade to take up the powerful global post in 2011 and was replaced by Japhet Moyo.

The former National Railways of Zimbabwe employee is a highly regarded trade union leader in Zimbabwe and abroad and is known for his bravery in defending workers rights and campaigning for democracy.

He was assaulted and arrested by security agents on several occasions during his time as the ZCTU boss and was among the trade union leaders who were brutally assaulted by the police on September 13, 2006 and was left with a permanent injury on his left hand.

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