The Building and Wood Workers’ International is shocked by the new government of Zimbabwe’s repressive measures against workers’ rights.
While preaching peace, the new government continue to use repressive laws such as the Public Order Protection Act (POSA). The Zimbabwean police arrested trade union leaders and scores of activists who had planned to demonstrate on 11 October against a recent announced 2% transaction tax increase that would have resulted in prices skyrocketing, further worsening the economic crisis leaving workers impoverished.
Seven leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union including President Peter Mutasa and Secretary General Japhet Moyo were beaten, spent a night in police custody and after being released on $USD 50 each were told to appear in court soon.
Currently, more than 40 trade unionists have been arrested countrywide and 26 ZCTU staff and union members were under house arrest at ZCTU Head office in Harare but were later rescued by Zimbabwe Lawyers of Human Rights (ZLHR) the same day.
Even though a strike is a constitutional right, the Zimbabwean police have used the recent cholera outbreak in the country to justify banning the ZCTU demonstration. It has been noted that the police continue to enforce the law selectively based on political affiliation. Any gatherings of the ruling ZANU-PF party and other public events that do not seem to challenge the poor policies of the current government have been allowed to proceed.
Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary strongly condemns the continuous repression of workers in a country that has seen the economic woes beyond former Robert Mugabe era. He stated, “The brutal arrest of the ZCTU leadership from the Harare Head Office and other trade unionists around the country is an act perpetuating violations of trade union rights as was under Mugabe era. This is contrary to the Constitution of Zimbabwe that gives workers the right to demonstrate.”
BWI therefore, calls for the government of Zimbabwe to immediately stop the brutal suppression of workers’ voice, respect freedom of association, and allow workers to peacefully demonstrate as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.