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Free Zimbabwe trade unionists NOW!
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
December 04, 2008

The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns the arrest of dozens of trade union leaders in Zimbabwe on 3 December 2008 and demands their immediate and unconditional release.

Those arrested were Wellington Chibebe, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), and Lovemore Matombo, ZCTU President, together with nine others, including Tonderai Nyahunzvi, Canwell Muchadya, Hillarious Ruyi, Cde Tarumbira and Joseph Chuma, who were arrested as the leaders were addressing workers after having managed to hand a ZCTU petition to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor.

Another 10 in Harare were heavily assaulted by the police. These included Getrude Hambira (General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union General Secretary), Angeline Chitambo (Zimbabwe Energy Workers' Union President), Tecla Masamba (Communications and Allied Workers' Union of Zimbabwe), Martha Kajama (National Engineering Workers' Union of Zimbabwe) and Mirriam Katumba (Vice Chair Women's Advisory Council).

Meanwhile, Japhet Moyo (ZCTU Deputy Secretary General) Ben Madzimure (The Worker Editor), Fungayi Kanyongo (The Worker Intern), Raymond Majongwe (Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe General Secretary), James Gumbi (Zimbabwe Rural District Council Workers' Union General Secretary), Osward Madziwa (PTUZ) were also arrested in Harare.

In Gweru more than 25 people have been arrested. Amongst those arrested are the ZCTU Central Regional chair Charles Chikozho, Isaac Thebethebe (Central region secretary), Moses Mhaka and Wilbert Muringani (both PTUZ) and Bernard Sibanda.

In Zvishavane town 6 people were arrested while at Barclays Bank. The six are Elinas Gumbo, Ndodana Sithole, Nicholas Zengeya, Isaac Matsikidze, Sarudzai Chimwanda, and David Moyo. They are being held at Zvishavane police station.

Despite all these arrests, in most parts of the country, workers managed to hand in petitions to the RBZ offices.

These arrests illustrate the deep crisis within Zimbabwe. They were carried out by police with no democratic mandate, acting under the orders of a 'president' who was defeated in the 29 March elections and who is clinging on to power only because SADC leaders have failed to broker a solution to the political crisis which reflects the results of 29 March.

Delegates to the Congress of the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council in Botswana on 29-30 November 2008 reaffirmed their full support for the Zimbabwean workers and pledged their ongoing solidarity. COSATU, and the rest of the international trade union movement, congratulates the courageous resistance of the ZCTU leaders and members and will not rest until every trade unionist has been released and will respond promptly to any call from the ZCTU for solidarity action.

An injury to one is an injury to all!

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