By Thandiwe Garusa
HUNDREDS of button wielding anti-riot police Wednesday blocked dozens of protesting civil servants from marching to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s offices where they had planned to hand over a petition to demand a review of their wages.
This is despite having been granted permission Tuesday to stage the demonstration.
Government workers have declared financial incapacitation after their wages have been eroded by run-away inflation propelled by continuously skyrocketing prices of goods and services.
Speaking during exchanges with some police officers in central Harare, firebrand Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure said they were merely pursuing their mission after they had been granted permission to stage the demonstration by the same authorities.
“We are not here to fight you (police) and all we want is to go and hand over our petition at the Minister’s office,” he said, adding, “We have been granted permission by the regulatory authority and nothing has changed. So, let us go. Do your job which is to protect us without stopping us.”
Masaraure continued, “(President Emmerson) Mnangagwa has declared a State of Emergency. If there was no State of Emergency, what are these police officers doing here. Some of them are soldiers wearing police uniforms. I have noticed one that I know.”
The march was supposed to start from the Public Service Association between Second and Third Street, along David Livingstone Avenue to New Government Complex.
Police had been deployed to block David Livingstone Street, between Second and Third Streets where the public service offices are located.
At the Africa Unity Square, there were water cannon trucks and another truck full of anti-riot police.
NewZimbabwe.com witnessed scenes in which some defiant civil servants who tried to proceed with the march were pushed and harassed by police but were not beaten up.
Some were left wearing torn clothes as a result of the skirmishes.
Said Apex Council secretary general David Dzatsunga, “Some among us who were coming from different parts of the country could not join us because we have been blocked. We do not know what to do.”
Among civil servants’ groups that came to the abortive march were Apex Council, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA).