Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Zimbabwe union activists detained.

The protesters were loaded into police trucks in Harare.At least 80 Zimbabwean trade union protesters have been detained by riot police in Harare. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions says their leader and secretary general were amongst those held in the capital. This follows the late night arrests on Monday of three union officials in the second city Bulawayo. The country-wide protests were called by the ZCTU "to remind government and employers that workers are hungry, angry and tired".

Local journalist Brian Hungwe in Harare told the BBC that there is a heavy police presence on the streets and the atmosphere is tense. The riot police armed with batons blocked the demonstrators from moving along the streets and begun herding them into trucks, he says. ZCTU spokesman Thabitha Khumalo said as many as 200 workers, including ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo and Secretary General Wellington Chibele were arrested in Harare while marching to present demands to minister of labour. Other reports suggested a lower figure. The union, which represents 30 worker organisations with a million members, says that life for the worker had never been poorer, with mass unemployment and inflation currently at nearly 360%.

Before his arrest, Mr Chibele told the BBC's Network Africa programme that "workers can not take it anymore" and they were calling for:

A living wage,
A reduction of income tax from 40% to a maximum of 30%,
The availability of anti-retroviral drugs for those with HIV and Aids,
And a halt to the influx of cheap goods from Asian coutries.

Those trade unionist picked up in Bulawayo include a leading union official in Bulawayo, Reason Ngwenya, regional vice-chairman Dzavamwe Shambari and a regional officer, Percy Mcijo, Mr Khumalo said. Meanwhile, Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of a pro-democracy coalition, handed himself over to police on Tuesday morning. He had been tipped off and spent the night away from home, but later turned himself in to the police.

Members of his National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) marched in Harare on Saturday calling for a new constitution. Under tough security laws, the police must give permission for all demonstrations and protests by groups not allied to the ruling Zanu-PF party are rarely authorised.


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