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union braces for fresh anti-government protests
Edith Kaseke, ZimOnline
April 02, 2007
The Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for a stay away tomorrow in
the face of a growing economic crisis, once more pitting itself
for clashes with President Robert Mugabe's government and
likely to heighten political tensions.
Mugabe has been
under growing international pressure over the past month over a
brutal campaign to crush an emboldened opposition, which has drawn
sharp criticism from his Western critics, some who have threatened
to stiffen sanctions on his government.
leader, now 83, and in power since independence from Britain in
1980, has the soli dbacking of Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) leaders, who last week urged Western governments to lift
sanctions on Harare.
But at home,
tensions are rising fast as the majority of people fail to cope
with hyperinflation of nearly 2 000 percent, and with eight in every
10 Zimbabweans out of employment, anger is growing.
saying the worker can no longer cope and the government has chosen
to ignore our demands . . . so we have agreed that the stay away
will go ahead on Tuesday and Wednesday," ZCTU leader Lovemore
Matombo said yesterday.
The ZCTU has
in the past staged crippling job boycotts, but of late calls for
strikes have received muted response from workers.
this was mainly a result of government intimidation and workers'
fears of losing their jobs in a country that has an 80 percent unemployment
Labour and Social
Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche yesterday made an unprecedented
move to write a lengthy column in the government-controlled Sunday
Mail newspaper urging workers to resist the stay away call.
demonstrates that the individuals in the ZCTU are calling for stayaways
to further a political agenda. These are the same individuals who
pay lip service to the tripartite social dialogue," Goche
are, therefore, being urged to ignore the call and report for work
as usual. Employers are free to deal with the workers who choose
to deliberately stay away from work," he added.
said the government feared that any disruption to industry would
further worsen an already dire economic crisis.
The ZCTU said
it wanted the government and business to sign the Kadoma Declaration,
a document that was agreed by the two parties, together with labour,
ensuring that the minimum wage was linked to the poverty datum line.
The workers also want Mugabe's government to resolve the economic
is worried and I think rightly so, that the country can hardly afford
further disruptions in the economy," private economic consultant
John Robertson said. "This (stayaway) is bad news for the
tripartite negotiating forum because it further worsens the deep
mistrust that already exists between the three groups," he
Mugabe has branded
the ZCTU a front of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
which he also says is being funded by the West to remove him from
Police in September
last year stopped a planned peaceful march by the ZCTU and arrested
its leadership and some workers, beating them and severely injuring
them in custody.
The police have
intensified their crackdown on the opposition and last month thwarted
an opposition rally in Highfield, arresting and savagely beating
several opposition activists in a move which was condemned by the
acknowledged the possibility of a violent backlash from the security
forces, and said the workers would not march in the streets this
time around, but just stay at home. He however said the ZCTU would
be embarking on work boycotts every three months until the government
meets their demands.
to keep a tight lid on discontent and fearing the opposition would
use protests and rallies to launch a spirited bid to oust him, had
banned the protests and rallies in Harare 's volatile townships.
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