THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Crisis Report - Issue 227
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
October 08, 2013

Download this document
- Acrobat PDF version (438KB)
If you do not have the free Acrobat reader on your computer, download it from the Adobe website by clicking here

Police violence on unpaid workers’ protesting wives unconstitutional – CSOs

Civil society has condemned the police’s harassment of protesting wives of coal mine workers who had reportedly walked 20km from town Centre to the Hwange Colliery General Manager’s office, demanding their husbands’ five months unpaid salaries on Monday, October 8, 2013.

The women, who apparently came out in a strong show of support for their husbands, were subjected to harassment and violent manhandling leading to many being injured and four being hospitalized at Hwange Colliery Hospital, leading to a collective outrage over the police’s heavy-handedness by women’s rights activists.

Women’s Coalition Chairperson Virginia Muwanigwa said the police’s actions at Hwange were a violation of the democratic rights of women.

“Clearly, the women had a genuine issue that they were raising with the Hwange Colliery,” Muwanigwa said. “It is a sad day when police assault people who are exercising their democratic right.”

Section 59 of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe reads: “Every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions, but these rights must be exercised peacefully.”

Sections 51 and 53 provide for the right to dignity, and freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment respectively.

Grace Chirenje, the vice-chairperson of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) and director of Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building, said the development was shocking as “the police are supposed to protect women’s rights” instead of unleashing violence against women.

“The same people who are supposed to protect us when our rights are violated as women are the same people who are violating our rights,” Chirenje said.

“If it is a domestic issue it becomes a big issue, but on the streets we should recognize that it is still violence against women. Police brutality against women is the worst form of violence against women.”

The protest by the disgruntled housewives for their spouses’ unpaid salaries follows similar recent demonstrations at National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Renco Mine, apparently showing the desperation caused by economic challenges countrywide.

Government, which is also the standard employer in the country, is the major shareholder at NRZ and Hwange Colliery.

Gideon Shoko, Deputy Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), said the Labour federation “does not believe the police must beat anybody” as they have no right to do so.

“The act on its own is arbitrary and should not be allowed in any democratic country,” Shoko said. “Demonstrations are guided by laws and those laws do not say police must beat up people, but rather that they must arrest if necessary.”

Shoko said the police were not expected “to interfere with labour issues”, but defended the involvement of disgruntled housewives, saying the labour laws in the country were too prohibitive for workers to protest without risking dismissal, or legal action.

“The labour law is too restrictive for workers to express themselves even when they have genuine issues,” Shoko said. “For example, for you to protest you must apply fourteen days in advance because of the stringent procedures, you have hindrances when the issue is a pressing one.

“So what happens is that solidarity strikes come in from wives and children.”

Download full document

Visit the Crisis in Zimbabwe fact sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.