Police Disrupt ZCTU Gathering Depite High Court Order

police__great_zim_universityPolice today disrupted a peaceful march organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to commemorate September 13. The police had initially written to the ZCTU banning the gathering and accused the ZCTU of trying to scuttle the National Healing Process by commemorating this day. 3 activists were arrested but were later released

ZCTU leadership and activists were bruatlly assaulted while in police custody on September 13 2006. These included the President Lovemore Matombo, Secretary General wellington Chibebe, 1st Vice President Lucia Matibenga and 2nd Vice President George Nkiwane. To this day some still bear the scars of the torture as they have become permanently disabled. Since 2006, September 13 has become a calendar event for Zimbabwean workers.

The ZCTU made an urgent High Court application on Friday 11 September after police had indicated that the commemorations could not go ahead. An Order was granted allowing the ZCTU to go ahead with the commemorations but police went ahead to disrupt proceedings despite them being furnished with the High Court Order. Suprisingly, in denying the ZCTU permission to hold the gathering the police had indicated that they did not have enough manpower to control the crowds but today, there were hundreds of armed riot police.

The ZCTU deplores the behaviour of the armed police who disrupted the gathering. This flies in the face of the inclusive government as barely two months ago the co-Minister of Home Affairs, Giles Mutsekwa announced that there was no ban on peaceful gatherings, marches or protests. The ZCTU also finds it odd that the powers that be are talking of National Healing but they do not want people to talk about their painful past experiences. National Healing is not all about just forgetting about the past but it is about talking about it and finding closure.

This also comes barely two weeks after the ILO Commission of Inquiry finished its two-week mission to Zimbabwe to probe trade union rights violations, specifically the Right to Freedom of Association and Assembly and the Right to Collective Bargaining. Government had giiven assurances to the ILO Commission that no further violations were taking place but today the ZCTU has been vindicated as we have been pointing out that what is happening on the ground is contrary to what the politicians are saying.

The ZCTU demands that government stop the harassment of trade unionists and ordinary citizens. We also demand that decisions made by the Judiciary be honoured and not disregarded as was the case with High Court Order issued.

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