7 arrested on May Day

HARARE - Zimbabwe's labour movement on Monday threatened to call street protests by workers to demand better wages and living conditions, stocking up tensions in a country already on edge after threats by the political opposition to call mass anti-government protests. Rallies were held in 20 town


s and cities throughout the country.
At least seven people were arrested as they marked May Day in Chitungwiza, according to a ZCTU spokesman Mlamleli Sibanda. He said those arrested included two members of the General Council, Vukile Kupe and Lawrence Mangezi. Promise Mkwananzi, the president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) confirmed that an official from his union, Marvelous Muroyi, was among those arrested in Chitungwiza. Mkwananzi, who addressed a ZCTU rally in Harare’s Gwanzura stadium earlier on Monday, accused the police of panicking.
Addressing about 5 000 workers at Workers Day celebrations in Harare, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo said workers would take to the streets if negotiations for better conditions and pay failed. “The crisis demands that we act now,” said Matombo, who blamed President Robert Mugabe’s government for running down Zimbabwe’s economy to leave workers poorer and suffering. He added: “If salary and wage negotiations fail to yield desired results, let’s all go on the streets to demand better living conditions, among them easy access to anti-retroviral drugs for HIV and AIDS patients.” The union leader’s calls for worker strikes for a better life comes as main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai is campaigning for mass protests to force Mugabe to step down and pave way for a government of national unity.
Tsvangirai, who accuses Mugabe and his government of stealing elections since 2000, wants a government of national unity to lead the writing of a new and democratic constitution and to organise fresh elections to be held under international supervision. Hundreds of police, some armed, closely monitored ZCTU celebrations while more police mounted roadblocks on all roads leading into the city centre. At the roadblocks police searched vehicles for weapons that could be used to commit public violence. – ZimOnline, Own correspondent

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