Protesting wives beaten by cops

On Monday overzealous police units fired teargas and beat up over 100 women who were marching to the company offices early in the morning, according to Nehanda Radio. The women, mostly wives of workers at Hwange, accuse the company of reneging on its promises when it failed to pay the workers their August and September salaries.

The face of brutality: This is how the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) riot squad deal with peaceful protestors in the country.
The face of brutality: This is how the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) riot squad deal with peaceful protestors in the country.

Hwange Colliery board had reportedly hasked the workers to fore-go the salaries they were owed and start on a clean slate at the end of August.

‘The workers desperate for their salaries, somehow grudgingly accepted the management proposal but were disappointed when the same management failed to pay them for the last two months despite the promise,’ a source said.

It also did not matter that the women were accompanied by their children, the riot police still went ahead and fired teargas and used batons to disperse them. Two women sustained serious injuries and were admitted to hospital.

Around 4am the women marched to the main colliery offices demanding the immediate resignation of the Human Resources manager Mr Fati Mpofu, a Zanu PF central committee member and his assistant a Mr AK Sibanda.

On the eve of the demonstrations three women identified as the ring leaders were arrested and spent the night in police cells. The women say their children have been expelled from school for non-payment of school fees after their husbands went for over 5 months without pay.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has meanwhile condemned the police brutality towards the striking Hwange Mine Workers Wives. Acting Information Officer Last Tarabuku expressed their shock and utter disbelief at the brutal manner in which the police had handled the peaceful demonstration.

The ZCTU is “informed that the wives had walked for 20 km to the General Managers’ office demanding their husbands’ salaries but were met with the police who harassed and assaulted them leaving many injured in the process. Some had to be ferried to Hwange Colliery Hospital for treatment.”

Tarabuku said the police brutality comes at a time Zimbabwe agreed on a new constitution that guarantees the right to demonstrate and to strike. He questioned the Zanu PF government’s sincerity given its International Labour Organisation (ILO) commitments to respect freedom of expression as well as association.

“What is shameful is that the police used force and violence on unarmed civilians, and worse still women who have borne the brunt of an unscrupulous management at Hwange Colliery which has failed to hour its obligations.

“We call upon the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Labour to reign in their button wielding police officers to stop this brutality and act in a sane manner. In fact, the police must never be allowed to interfere with purely labour issues,” Tarabuku said.

In August this year mine workers went on strike over unpaid salaries even though the coal miner recorded a $3,1 million net profit in the year to December 2012, down 26 percent from a prior comparable period after an unprecedented reduced uptake of coal by the Zimbabwe Power Company.

In April this year Hwange Colliery suspended 520 workers over salary disputes and alleged breach of the company’s code of conduct. The workers had gone on strike over outstanding employee share option schemes which had not been honored to them by the company.

The strike by the wives of the Hwange employees follows similar strikes by the wives of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers who have also gone for months without pay. Another ailing parastatal Ziscosteel faces similar challenges as does the Cold Storage Commission (CSC) which sells meat.

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