By Alois Vinga
THE Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) has “strongly condemned” the arrest and detention of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders and activists during a foiled demonstration against government’s 2 percent tax on electronic transfers Thursday.
In a statement, SATUCC executive secretary, Austin Muneku described the police action as rather “disappointing” for current President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was elected only two months ago with pledges to uphold citizen freedoms.
Police descended on the main labour group’s Harare offices and seized union president Peter Mutasa, secretary general Japhet Moyo and a handful others.
Dozens more were arrested in Mutare and Masvingo as the ZCTU tried to stage simultaneous demonstrations in major centres in the country.
“We are further perturbed to be informed that over 40 armed police officers have occupied the offices of the ZCTU since (Thursday) morning and put all staff inside the building under house arrest,” Muneku said.
Seven ZCTU leaders were finally freed on $50 bail each by the courts after spending 2 nights in police custody.
However, the regional worker representative group said that the arrest on its affiliate union leaders violated necessary workers’ rights to “organise, assemble and expression” as well as international labour statutes which Zimbabwe has signed up to.
“It is saddening that once again the workers of Zimbabwe have been denied the right to organise, assemble and freely express themselves barely two months after the swearing in President Emerson Mnangagwa who proclaimed a new dispensation for the people of Zimbabwe and promised transformation from the previous President Robert Mugabe brutal administration which repeatedly violated workers’ rights with impunity,” said the group.
SATUCC called on Zimbabwean authorities to “respect and safeguard the rights of all workers and general public in Zimbabwe” and for the state to allow workers to freely conduct trade union activities.