By Mary Taruvinga
SEVEN Zimbabwe Congress for Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders arrested during Thursday’s foiled anti-tax demonstrations, were set to spend another night in police custody Friday after they were brought to court late noon.
They are ZCTU president, Peter Gift Mutasa (41); secretary general Japhet Moyo (54); Simon Tendai Mutasa (32); Ezekiel Haimishi Matema (28); Munashe Chirovamari (42); Benice Maluleke (44)and Priscilla Jonhi (52).
The group appeared before Harare magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini, who remanded them to this Saturday for bail hearing.
They are being accused of participating in a gathering with “intent to promote public violence, alternatively, breaching of peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act”.
The ZCTU leaders spent the entire day on Friday being tossed about before they could go through the vetting process at National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
At one time, it was reported that the investigating officer in their matter was nowhere to be found, further delaying their initial court appearance.
According to the state, “on October 8 2018, ZCTU made notifications to Officer Commanding Harare Central police district intending to conduct a peaceful demonstration in the capital three days later.
On October 10, the regulating authority of Harare central district declared the demonstration could not go ahead because of the suspension of all public gatherings in Harare in view of the ongoing police-council operations to drive out illegal vendors from the CBD.
ZCTU further challenged the ban through the High Court but the top court dismissed the application Thursday.
On 11 October, the “accused persons defied the order of the High Court and conducted an unlawful demonstration along Jason Moyo Avenue in the capital disturbing free movement of people”.
Together with many others, they allegedly displayed placards inscribed, “’No to another ESAP’, ‘Taramba mutero wembwa’, ‘Zimbabwe Let’s do it again’, ‘ED must fall’, ‘#Another November in October’ and ‘No to 2% taxation’.
The group was ordered to desist from their conduct by the police but refused and in the process, disturbed the free movement of people in the pavements, prosecutors allege.
They were then arrested and the placards were taken ass exhibits.
ZCTU is challenging the imposition of a 2 percent tax on all electronic transfers by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube two weeks ago, coupled with rising poverty levels in the country.