By Alois Vinga
THE Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) has condemned last week’s arrest of union leaders and activists in Harare.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders and several activists were arrested in clashes with riot police last Thursday as they protested new recently taxation imposed by the government.
SATUCC executive secretary Austin Muneku expressed dismay over the arrests.
“SATUCC representing 22 major federations in 14 of the 16 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states with a combined membership of about 6 million working men and women, strongly condemns the recent detention and disruption of peaceful demonstrations in the regional capitals organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU),” he said in a statement.
“We are further perturbed to be informed that over 40 armed police officers occupied the offices of the ZCTU (from) morning and put all staff work inside the building under house arrest.”
SATUCC said Harare disturbances seriously violated workers’ rights to organise and assemble as provided under International Labour Organisation Conventions 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise which the Government of Zimbabwe has ratified and committed to uphold and implement.
More worrying, the regional organisation added, was the fact that arrests occurred at a time President Emmerson Mnangagwa has publicly committed to guarantee previously denied rights has just been sworn in.
“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,” the statement expressed.
SATUCC has demanded that the government should respect and safeguard the rights of all workers and the general public in Zimbabwe.
The ZCTU should also be allowed to freely conduct trade union activities, defend and champion the rights of workers in Zimbabwe without restrictions and police brutality and harassment.