ZCTU leaders freed after lawyers’ intervention

ZCTU leaders freed after lawyers’ intervention as carpenter lands in trouble over Mugabe birthday remarks


POLICE on Wednesday 29 February 2012 briefly detained six Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders, who staged a demonstration in Harare to protest against poor working conditions and inadequate remuneration.

The six ZCTU leaders included the labour union’s president Lovemore Matombo, secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe, Isdore Zindoga, Emelda Mhuriro, Vrante Jambaya, J.C Gumbi and two Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) leaders Pride Mukono and Tryvine Musokeri.

The ZCTU and ZINASU leaders were rounded up as they led protestors to petition the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) after successfully delivering their petition at the Public Service Commission and at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in Harare. The police claimed that they had violated an order to only let a few labour leaders to hand over the petition while other workers should gather at Harare Gardens.

The labour and student leaders representing their different constituencies were released after a brief detention at Harare Central Police Station after the intervention of their lawyers, Irene Petras, Rose Hanzi, Jeremiah Bamu and Kennedy Masiye of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean carpenter has landed in trouble for allegedly enquiring on the ability of President Robert Mugabe to blow up birthday balloons given his advanced age and ill-health status.

Police on Monday 27 February 2012 hauled to court Richmore Mashinga Jazi, a self employed carpenter based in the eastern border town of Mutare and charged him with mocking, undermining and insulting Mugabe after he allegedly enquired from a colleague, Pension Gwinyai, about how the octogenarian leader had managed to blow up birthday balloons because of falling ill-health and old age.

“VaMugabe vagona sei kufuridza zvibharuma, asi pane munhu avabatsira here uye samba racho variwanepi,” which the police translated to mean “Did Mugabe manage to blow all those balloons or did someone assist him to do so and where did he get the power.”

The police and prosecutors say by uttering such words Mashinga Jazi, who watched the live broadcasting of Mugabe’s birthday celebrations held at a football stadium in Mutare on Saturday 25 February 2012 undermined and insulted the ZANU PF leader in contravention of Section 33 (2) (a) (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.

Mashinga Jazi, who appeared before Mutare Magistrate Sharon Chipanga on Monday 27 February 2012 was granted $20 bail.

Mashinga Jazi joins a long list of several Zimbabweans who have been charged with undermining Mugabe. Last year, Mutare police charged Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) co-chairperson and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator Douglas Mwonzora with undermining the authority of or insulting Robert Mugabe for allegedly enquiring on the health status of the former freedom fighter.

Mwonzora allegedly mocked Mugabe by posing questions on a portrait of the 87 year old leader, which was positioned in Nyanga Magistrates Court, when he appeared in court on public violence charges.

“Makadii baba? Iri sei mwiri? Riri sei ziso?” The police translated this to mean “How are you father? How is your health? How is your eye?”

Mugabe’s health status has been under the spotlight in recent years after his lieutenants publicly admitted that he had a cataract operation on his eye in Singapore early last year and has been a frequent visitor of the Asian country on several occasions.

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