In a statement following the arrest of several top Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) officials, COSATU said the detention of the unionists was an “outrageous attack on the trade union movement and democracy”.
COSATU, which is part of South Africa’s ruling tripartite that is led by the ANC and includes the South African Communist Party, has led criticism against Mugabe and frequently accuses Pretoria and other regional governments of failure to take tougher action against the Zimbabwean strongman.
The South African union said the arrest of ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo and other union officials was confirmation that: “state forces in Zimbabwe, regardless of the existence of a ‘government of national unity’, are still brutally imposing their dictatorship over those who are struggling for democracy and workers’ rights.”?
Zimbabwe police on Sunday arrested Matombo and four other ZCTU officials for holding a meeting with union leaders in the resort town of Victoria Falls that the police say was not sanctioned.
Matombo and his co-accused were detained overnight at Victoria Falls police station before being transferred to Hwangwe on Monday morning. There were indications that they might appear in court on Tuesday.
The government’s draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA) requires Zimbabweans to notify police first before holding public political meetings and demonstrations. However professional and other special interest groups such as the ZCTU are not required to notify police of meetings to discuss issues specific to their work or field.
But the police have been accused by human rights groups of using the POSA willy-nilly to bar meetings of any group perceived as unsympathetic to Mugabe and his ZANU PF party.
The arrest of the ZCTU officials come barely two weeks after police arrested two top members of the national association of non-governmental organisations also in Victoria Falls where they were attending a meeting of directors of NGOs working in the country.
The POSA is among a raft of repressive laws that Zimbabwe’s unity government must repeal or drastically amend to open up democratic space and create a level political field ahead of fresh elections.
Tsvangirai says Mugabe is dragging his feet on democratic reforms including the drafting of a new constitution that must precede fresh elections, a charge the veteran leader denies. –Post published in: Politics