ANTI-riot police, Thursday, moved in quickly to block planned Zimbabwe Congress of Trade union demonstrations.
ZCTU had planned nationwide demonstrations against the recently introduced two percent tax that has resulted in massive price hikes.
Police blocked the demonstrations from taking place, cited cholera threats and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) as reason why ZCTU could not march.
But ZCTU as a labour movement is exempted from such as Section 24 of POSA does not apply to registered trade unions as they are fall under classes of gatherings that can conduct their business in accordance with the Labour Relations Act Chapter 28:01.
In Bulawayo, police descended on the ZCTU offices and kept a watchful eye as members gathered to proceed with their peaceful march.
The members had planned to march to Mhlahlandlela government complex to deliver a petition to Bulawayo’s resident minister Judith Ncube.
However, their plans were halted by news that ZCTU National President, Peter Gift Mutasa and Secretary General, Japhet Moyo, were beaten up and arrested in Harare.
Addressing those who had gathered for the march, ZCTU regional chairperson, Ambrose Sibindi said the police had refused to sanction their march.
“We had done the necessary applications and yesterday (Wednesday) at our meeting at Southampton, the tone of the meeting was going well. But we observed something new, in the meeting with police, were two military personnel from Imbizo Barracks and Bred barracks. The presence of the military personnel amazed us, as we have never held meetings with them,” he claimed.
Sibindi said although demonstrating was a trade union’s constitutional right, they had decided not to go ahead with the protest for the sake of their members’ safety.
“We have a right as labour to protests against the introduction of the two percent tax, which was mooted without any consultations from people and businesses. The tax lacks national ownership yet we have the Tripartite Negotiating Forum platform and Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) that could have been engaged,” he noted.
ZCTU women’s wing provincial chairperson Barbara Tanyanyiwa, read out the petition that was meant to be delivered to the resident minister.
Part of the petition demanded that government: “reverses the two percent tax by scrapping it off, curtail government’s extravagant spending, eliminate all ghost workers, avails cash to suffering Zimbabweans, abandons the bond notes, makes sure citizens access savings in US dollar, do away with the RTGS and bond note currency.”