Workers and civic society groups have warned that they would be forced to hit back against police brutality if the security forces continued to suppress the voice of workers.
Addressing a well-attended Workers’ Day rally at Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield, Harare, yesterday, activists blasted government corruption with Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) president Tafadzwa Mugwadi warning of Egypt or Yemen-style revolts if the plight of their parents, the workers, was not addressed.
Prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama said people should be free to fight for their rights and if police suppressed them, they should hit back.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo said workers had to fight for their rights like what war veterans did when they fought for land reform.
“They fought for land and they got it. What can stop the workers from fighting for their rights and win?” he said.
Wellington Chibebe, the ZCTU secretary-general, also warned the police against trying to thwart the people’s freedoms saying they were inviting trouble.
“I appreciate there are police here in attendance — spying.
They had tried to thwart this gathering, but they were playing with fire.
“We want to tell them that when it comes to fighting for workers’ rights, the police are like children. They are not yet grown-ups in the game,” he said.
“To (Police Commissioner-General Augustine) Chihuri, I say don’t dream to thwart our actions because we will embarrass you,” he warned.
“We have seen what the inclusive government has done, but we are tired. We no longer want that and if these people do not respect our rights, we go to the streets,” he said.
Chibebe said the executive committee of the ZCTU had decided to honour Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai by establishing the Morgan
Tsvangirai Labour Activist of the Year Award.
The annual award, Chibebe said, would be a floating trophy with $3 000 prize money with Tsvangirai himself being the inaugural winner for this year.
Award-winning human rights defender Muchadehama said rights were not demanded but fought for.
“Rights should be fought for. If the police violate your rights, fight for them. If government violates your rights, fight them, and if the police fight you, fight back,” he said.
Mugwadi said ever since the coming-in of the inclusive government, nothing much had been done for the workers and their children, a majority of whom were students.
“Why should (President Robert) Mugabe go (out of the country) to get treatment while our parents are dying here in Zimbabwe? Our parents are being forced to sign the anti-sanctions petition, but that is nonsense.
“What is happening in Yemen, Egypt — we want it in Zimbabwe if (President) Mugabe cannot do what we want. Together we shall complete this struggle,” the Zinasu president said.