ZwNews Chief Correspondent
The Southern African Trade Unions Coordination Council (SATUCC) has taken a swipe at President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration for blocking planned peaceful demonstrations by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and arresting its leaders, saying this trumping of democratic rights mustn’t have a place in a new dispensation.
The union leaders have since been released on bail, and are expected to appear in court on
SATUCC which is based in Gaborone, Botswana, represents 22 major trade federations in 14 out of the 16 Southern Africa Development Community member states, says it is disheartening that human rights abuse are still continuing more so under Mnangagwa, who had promised to move away from Mugabe’s old cruel ways.
“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 of President 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,” says SATUCC in a statement.
SATUCC’s statement came as a response to what transpired on October 10, when the police blocked a planned demonstration by ZCTU, saying the cholera outbreak that recently killed more than 30 people has not been totally ridden, therefore the coming together of people into groups was a health hazard.
The heavily armed police flooded the streets of Harare and other major towns, allegedly attacked some of the people who they believe to be party and parcel of the demonstrators, as well as arresting the ZCTU leaders. According to sources within the union, the police went on to raid the union’s offices rounding up its members.
The regional workers federation says it takes the action by the authorities in Zimbabwe as a gross violation of workers’ rights to organise, assemble, and express themselves, and demands that the Government of Zimbabwe should respect and safeguard the rights of all workers and the general public in the country.
Apparently, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) says it noted with concern the use of force by the government and its law enforcement agents to block the suffering citizens from demonstrating against the economic down.
CiZC says the cholera reason given by the police to justify their blocking of the demonstrations was not the real motive, as the move came at a time a number of gatherings, like churches, and graduation ceremonies that attract thousands of people are still being held.
The coalition views the move as political; thereby exposing the police’s partisan nature.
“The stance by the police shows that Zimbabwe is still stuck in the dark past during which police and army would use force to stifle fundamental citizens’ rights,” says ZCTU in a statement.
CiZC says it will continue support efforts by Zimbabweans to bring government to account, and demand that the state delivers; the union also urged the authorities to respect human rights, as enshrined in the Constitution, including the right to peacefully demonstrate.
Meanwhile, according to MDC-Alliance president Nelson Chamisa, the recent heavy deployment of the police in the streets of Harare and other major cities to thwart demonstrations and the arrest of the ZCTU leaders is a clear testimony that the abuse of the past is back.
Prominent analyst Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya, agrees, says in Zimbabwe what changed was only the driver, and the system remained, adds that this is the reason why the things that used to happen under former president Robert Mugabe including violence is still happening under President Mnangagwa.