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Zimbabwean General Strike

Over 400 trade unionists were arrested on 13th September in major industrial strikes and demonstrations all over Zimbabwe. Leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions were arrested, many of the demonstrators were beaten and tortured in this latest act by the brutal and crisis-ridden Mugabe regime.

The strikes were triggered by the huge economic crisis in Zimbabwe which is suffering hyper-inflation and mass unemployment.

The ZCTU is demanding wages keep pace with inflation and a cut in taxes. They are also demanding provision of drugs to treat AIDS/HIV.

Several leaders of the ZCTU have been transferred from Prison to Hospital. "12 people are now in Hospital having been badly beaten while in police custody," union leader ZCTU General Secretary Wellington Chibebe told the BBC. He himself was beaten with batons and rifle butts as the Police arrested him. Lovemore Matambo, President and Lucia Matibenga, first Vice President of the ZCTU are reported to have been beaten, and refused medical attention or access to lawyers.

On the day of the strike wave and repressions, the TUC was meeting in Brighton and TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to Mugabe calling for the immediate release of 400 Trade unionists.

Thabitha Khumalo Vice President addressed the TUC Congress saying: "I am praying that none of my comrades are going to die tonight. Our country has unemployment of 80% and the average wage of a woman worker in the agricultural industry is £2 a month. There is a dictatorship in Zimbabwe, arrests without trial, summary beatings and constant brutality.

Zimbabwe's annual inflation reached 1,204.6% in August and goods cost more than 13 times what they did a year ago. Last month Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank issued a new 100,000 Zimbabwean dollar note (equivalent to just under $1), to accommodate rocketing prices.

According the United Nations' agencies, more than four million of the country's 13 million people face food shortages.

18 September 2006

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