THE High Court has granted National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers permission to stage peaceful demonstrations in Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru and Mutare over non-payment of salaries and interdicted police from interfering.
In August, the police barred NRZ unions — Zimbabwe Railways Artisans’ Union, Railways Associations of Engineers and Railways Association of Yard Operating — from demonstrating in the four cities claiming the protests were likely to turn violent.
In Bulawayo, the workers had intended to march from the main railway station to the Large City Hall car park, but police said “information at hand shows that there is strong apprehension towards groups opposed to the government (sic). Hooligans may join in the procession with intent of disrupting the whole process”.
However, Harare High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe has now given NRZ workers the green light to reorganise their protests.
“The orders prohibiting the demonstrations be set aside, as they have no legal basis. The respondents and their agents are interdicted from disturbing or interfering in any way with the applicant’s demonstrations to be held in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare on 2 August 2014, at 10am to 2pm,” reads in part a judgment seen by Southern.
“The applicants go ahead with the scheduled demonstrations and promote their rights to freedom of association and assembly and the right to demonstrate as set out in Sections 58 and 59 of the Constitution respectively.
“The applicants proceed with the peaceful demonstration to be rescheduled on another future date without the interference of the respondents”.
NRZ sources said preparations for the “mother off all protests” were in full swing.
“The judgment has re-energised us and preparations are on-going. No dates have been set, but the protests would be huge,” said a union official.
NRZ workers have gone for months without pay. They say pleas to management to address their plight have fallen on deaf ears. NRZ workers are owed close to $55 million in unpaid salaries.