The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has lamented the continuous violation of workers’ rights through “draconian” laws preventing aggrieved workers from demonstrating against their employers.
ZCTU Western Region chairperson Reason Ngwenya revealed during commemorations to mark the day when State security agents allegedly assaulted union leaders on September 13 2006.
Some of the union leaders were left with permanent injuries.
Since then the labour organisation has put the day on its calendar in remembrance of the victims of the alleged brutality.
Ngwenya said on the fateful day, security agents allegedly violated workers’ rights on the pretext they were enforcing the law against demonstrating workers.
ZCTU had organised demonstrations across the country to express workers’ discontentment over high taxation and poor wages.
“On this day, the ZCTU leadership and activists were brutalised by those regarded as custodians of the country’s law enforcement who however turned out not to be,” he said.
“One wonders who will police the police whom we have vested all our trust in if they turn against us. Where then should we go for protection? The only possible option is for us workers to protect ourselves.”
Ngwenya said he was baffled by revelations police continued to scuttle workers’ struggle for the recognition of their rights.
“The workers need poverty datum line-linked wages and salaries. They need decent work; they need jobs, and decent accommodation. It is sad that whenever workers try to express their dissatisfaction over employers’ conduct, the police clamp down on them,” Ngwenya said.
“We demand the repeal of all draconian laws and the depoliticisation of workers’ issues. We also demand compensation for the leaders and workers who were assaulted by police on this day in 2006.”
Those who were allegedly brutally assaulted included deposed ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo, union vice-president and Kuwadzana MP Lucia Matibenga, former secretary-general Wellington Chibebe, and Moses Ngondo, who now uses crutches.
Ngwenya said workers must not allow the police to disturb their activities on the pretext of enforcing the law.