Labour movement protests at violent arrests of Zimbabwe trade unionists
Photo Associated Press
UNI Global Union and the international labour movement condemn the action of the Zimbabwean police in arresting more than 30 trade unionists, including the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions President Peter Mutasa and Secretary General Japhet Mayo.
Some 150 police officers surrounded the ZCTU offices in Harare to prevent the planned peaceful protest against a transaction tax increase which would hit the country’s already impoverished workforce hard.
UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Christy Hoffman joined with the General Secretary of the ITUC, Sharan Burrow in demanding their immediate release.
Hoffman said, “Reports from Harare say that police violently attacked a group of trade unionists, with no provocation, to prevent them from carrying out their constitutional right to peacefully protest. Such violence and suppression of union rights is a highly worrying echo of the Mugabe era. We join with the ITUC in calling for them to be set free forthwith.”
Burrow said: “We demand the immediate release of those arrested, and that those responsible for assaulting trade unionists, who are acting lawfully to defend Zimbabwe’s working people from even greater hardship, be brought to justice. This type of repressive behaviour from President Mnangagwa is no different from the tyranny of former President Robert Mugabe. The international trade union movement stands in full solidarity with our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters.”
The authorities used the recent cholera outbreak in the country to justify banning the ZCTU demonstration; however, as the union points out, gatherings of the ruling ZANU-PF party, sports events, church services and other public events have been allowed to proceed.
UNI Africa Regional Secretary, Keith Jacobs said, “UNI Africa supports the call from her affiliates to the Zimbabwean Government to halt all extravagant expenditure on elected state officials and to introduce monetary policies that will stop the plunge of the country’s economy and the race to the bottom. We demand the Zimbabwean Government allows workers and citizens to express themselves freely without the threat of police harassment. We further call on the Government to unconditionally release all worker leaders, including the Zimbabwean Bank Union General Secretary (ZIBAWU) and President of the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions.”