BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE /Rex Mphisa
Workers’ unions from Botswana, Nigeria and South Africa have threatened to lobby the international community to shutdown Zimbabwean embassies over alleged human rights abuses. This came after State security agents were deployed by government to ruthlessly crush dissent in the wake of fuel protests last month that turned violent.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) members on Friday last week stormed the Zimbabwean embassy in Abuja, demanding the release of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders who were arrested and charged with treason for their alleged roles in the January 14 stayaway.
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa and secretary-general Japhet Moyo were released on Friday on $2 000 bail each under stringent conditions.
NLC president Ayuba Wabba said if Zimbabwean authorities failed to drop the charges against the union leaders, they would organise workers around the world to shutdown Zimbabwean embassies.
“The protest is against what many Zimbabweans perceive as insensitive policy choices by the government. The Nigerian working class family is sad that what should have passed as a civil action in democratic climes was met with disproportionate use of force by the military and security forces,” Wabba said in statement published on their website.
Wabba urged the United Nations to invoke relevant international conventions to protect Zimbabwean civilians from home raids, rape, killings, robbery and physical assaults during the crackdown on dissent
The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) on Friday handed a petition to its government, urging it to intervene in Zimbabwe, where at least 12 people were killed during the protests against fuel price hikes, while hundreds were wounded and over 1 000 arrested.
BFTU also wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, protesting the arbitrary arrests of workers exercising their rights. The BFTU also forwarded a copy of the letter to the Zimbabwean embassy in Botswana and the Geneva Human Rights Office.
“We urge the Zimbabwe government to restore a social climate that is free of violence and fear, to guarantee the safety of all protesters and to immediately and unconditionally release those arrested, including ZCTU general-secretary Japhet Moyo and president Peter Mutasa. We call on the Botswana government and Sadc leaders to exert pressure on the government of Zimbabwe,” BFTU secretary-general Thusang Butale said.
In a statement last week, the Congress of South African Trade Unions also demanded that their government should deny assistance to Zimbabwe to prop-up Mnangagwa’s “dictatorship”.