THE International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has condemned the military for firing gunshots at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union offices in Harare early this month in a bid to quash protests over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s delay in releasing results.
By Alois Vinga
The influential global labour organ, representing 207 million members of 331 affiliates in 163 countries and territories, expressed dismay over the military’s conduct, which they described as “unleashing of violence on protesters”.
“The ITUC condemns the post-election violence by the Zimbabwean military and security forces, including gunshots fired at the offices of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), following spontaneous assemblies of protesters expressing fears about potential stealing of the election and democratic mandate of the people of Zimbabwe,” Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said in a statement.
“The country’s electoral commission had declared that the Zanu PF party won the elections with a substantial majority, but had refused to release results, drawing criticism from the opposition and international observers.”
The ITUC noted that Zimbabwe’s military has in the recent past stood between the people of Zimbabwe and their realisation of democracy, stability, prosperity and the protection of their human rights.
It hinted that the labour movement harboured cautious optimism that Zimbabwe, in the lead up to this elections, had turned the corner, but the deplorable recourse to violence against peaceful citizens was a continuation of the culture of impunity that keeps setting back the hopes of the Zimbabwean people.
“… the ZCTU had repeatedly expressed concern over the role of the electoral commission in the lead up to the elections. The Zimbabwean people have struggled for too long for basic human rights, decent treatment and democracy to build a resilient, stable and prosperous society for all,” Burrow said.
“With the departure of Robert Mugabe an opportunity beckons to realise this and nothing should be done to undermine the aspirations and mandate of the people expressed through this critical election.”
The ITUC called on the government to guarantee peace for all Zimbabweans and to stand with the people against impunity and unaccountable use of force against the citizens of Zimbabwe, adding the government must hold the military to account.
“Election is not only about peacefully casting a ballot. The remaining processes must meet the same test of being free, fair, transparent and reflecting the true wishes of the people,” Burrow added.
“We call on all stakeholders in the political process, especially political leaders, the security forces and civil society to act with utmost restraint and a great burden of responsibility to ensure that the rule of law, human rights and democracy prevail at this critical juncture and in the future.”
Meanwhile, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa has told NewsDay that legal recourse was being sought to bring to book those who fired gunshots at the union’s headquarters.
“Two of our offices were attacked in an incident that has left one staff member injured and others traumatised. As a result, we will be filing a formal report with the police and pursue alternative local and global legal avenues to make sure that adequate compensation is availed,” he said.