By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned police harassment and violence on protesters in Zimbabwe on Thursday over poor economic conditions of workers in the country.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC president said this in a letter addressed to the President of Zimbabwe, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“We received with dismay reports that the Zimbabwe government did not only stop a peaceful protest of trade unions and other Civil Society organisations but the security forces brutally beat up the protesters and arrested some trade union leaders and activists.
“Those reportedly arrested and beaten up included the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Comrade Peter Mutasa and Secretary General Japheth Moyo together with 39 other persons.
“The NLC strongly condemns this police harassment and violence on the protesters and call on the Zimbabwe Government for the immediate and unconditional release of the ZCTU Trade Union leaders and activists.
“That are detained by the Zimbabwe Government for participating in a peaceful demonstration to protest austerity economic measures which continue to worsen living conditions for working people and their families in the country,“ he said.
Wabba noted that the arrest was worrisome as the ZCTU had duly informed the authorities of its intention to hold the peaceful demonstration and had presented a petition of workers’ demands to the Minister of Finance.
He however, said in spite of the prior notification and the peaceful conduct of the workers and their leaders during the demonstration, the Zimbabwe police still violently cracked down on the harmless workers and their leaders.
He noted that the Zimbabwe police also cordoned off the offices of the ZCTU.
“We make bold to say that the government of Zimbabwe is duty bound to ensure that workers can exercise their right of freedom of association and demonstrate peacefully.
“This is in line with global democratic right and fundamental human rights, without the use of coercive force in breach of Article 59 of the Zimbabwe Constitution and the provision of the ILO Convention 87 of the Freedom of Association.
“The NLC condemns in its entirety the use of maximum force against workers and their leaders for expressing their views through a protest against government economic measure that are anti-workers and the people and for making legitimate demands.
“This action seems to be a throw to the dark days of his predecessor, a situation he had promised to change.
“We again call on your government to immediately and unconditionally release the detained ZCTU leaders and others who were arrested,’’ Wabba added.
He also called on the government of Zimbabwea to carry out an investigation into the use of violence against the peaceful demonstrators and bring to book those found culpable in the act.