Labour leaders briefly detained at protest march in Harare

The police briefly detained three labour leaders at a protest march in Harare on Wednesday, organized by the breakaway Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), who wanted to highlight the critical issue of low wages their members are struggling with.

Workers also took to the streets in Bulawayo and Masvingo to show solidarity with the protesters in Harare, who delivered petitions to the Ministry of Labour demanding salaries above the poverty datum line, currently set at $535.

Among those detained in Harare was the ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo, a ZCTU organizer named Chiripasi and General Secretary of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Raymond Majongwe, whose umbrella teachers union is an affiliate member of the ZCTU.

Takavafira Zhou, President of the PTUZ, told SW Radio Africa that the marches had been peaceful in all three cities except Harare, where police “wanted to spoil the day by arresting the leaders, even though they had been notified of the marches in all three cities”.

Zhou said fortunately they arrived after a petition calling for decent wages had been delivered to the ministry. “They detained the leaders for long periods asking them why they had marched. I don’t know whether they expected them to fly,” Zhou said of the interrogations. All three detained leaders were released without charge.

No incidents were reported in Bulawayo where workers marched in solidarity. In Masvingo about 50 people gathered but were not allowed to march. “We had understood that permission for the national marches covered all three cities, but apparently locals want their own documentation,” Zhou explained.

The main ZCTU did not participate in the protests. According to reports, their president, Japhet Moyo, acknowledged that the issue of low wages affects the majority of workers and needs to be addressed. SW Radio Africa

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