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ZCTU demonstrations shut down, labour leaders detained
Crisis in Zimbabwe
October 09, 2003
and trade union leaders held demonstrations across the country on Wednesday
8 October to protest high taxation, the soaring cost of living, worsening
transport problems, cash shortages and the persistent violation of human
and trade union rights by the Zimbabwean Government.
In Bulawayo, ZCTU
members began their demonstration and were marching through town when
they were surrounded by the police and the demonstration was violently
disrupted. Councillor Khumalo of the high density suburb of Pelandaba
was severely beaten and was taken to hospital for treatment. The demonstrators
were detained in police custody for most of the day. The majority of them
were released after being charged under Section 24 of the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA). Three bystanders at the demonstrations were still
in custody on the morning of Thursday 9 October.
Police raided the
offices of the ZCTU in Mutare on the morning of 8 October and confiscated
materials including placards, flyers and t-shirts. The demonstrations
went ahead all the same, and 100 activists were detained by the police
for protesting. A lawyer from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
who went to the police station to defend the protestors was denied access
to them. The group was released that afternoon after paying a fine under
Section 7 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act.
In Harare, police
immediately encircled 70 activists and closed down their demonstration.
ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo, Secretary General Wellington Chibebe
and Vice Presidents Lucia Matibenga and Collen Gwiyo were arrested with
37 other demonstrators. They were detained until late Wednesday night,
and were released subject to summons on charges of violating the Miscellaneous
In Gweru, twelve organisers
were arrested on Tuesday 7 October for distributing information about
the action. They were detained overnight and released the morning of Wednesday
8 October. Police also arrested one labour leader in Masvingo and three
in Chinhoyi for allegedly planning demonstrations.
The ZCTU had called
for the demonstrations as a response to the desperate economic conditions
now threatening Zimbabwe. They did not target a single individual or a
political party. However, the state could not allow these protests to
go ahead. In all cases, armed riot police acted swiftly to close down
the demonstrations almost before they started. The demonstrations came
only weeks after the forced closure of The Daily News, Zimbabwe's only
independent daily newspaper. The speed with which the police acted to
disrupt these peaceful demonstrations is a further indication of the extent
to which freedom of expression has truly been erased from the Zimbabwean
The Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition applauds the conviction demonstrated by the protestors in risking
arrest for the sake of their cause. The Coalition however denounces the
paranoid and heavy handed policing employed by the regime in preventing
even these peaceful demonstrations from going ahead. It further demands
the immediate repeal of unjust laws such as POSA and the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that restrict people's Constitutionally
guaranteed freedoms. It instead urges government to uphold and respect
citizens' rights to peacefully express their position on issues that affect
their daily lives.
Crisis in Zimbabwe is
a grouping of civil society organisations and coalitions whose vision is
a democratic Zimbabwe. The Coalition's mandate is to address issues of governance
Visit the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition fact
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