THE security sector is on high alert, amid fears among authorities of crippling mass protests by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) — over the country’s deteriorating economic situation, the Daily News reports.
This comes as workers are struggling to make ends meet due to the ever rising local inflation and prices of basic consumer goods.
It also comes after health workers announced a strike last week, which left many of the country’s hospitals in dire straits — while the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association of Zimbabwe (Artuz) also staged demonstrations in Masvingo yesterday over poor salaries.
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa told the Daily News yesterday that the government’s deployment of soldiers and police in residential areas and the country’s streets, over fears for the planned strike, would not help to solve Zimbabwe’s myriad crises.
“We are mobilising the workers. Actually, the workers are being mobilised by the material conditions in the country.
“Instead of sending heavily-armed police and soldiers, the government should better address the workers’ concerns.
“People are hungry. Deploying the army and police in our view exacerbates the situation, because eventually people will go out to look for food. People are desperate, and they are working for nothing,” Mutasa said.
“We are prepared for a long, protracted struggle. What we are demanding is a peaceful demonstration.
“The people must be very peaceful. We must be wary of people who join us and seek to cause violence. Our resistance must be peaceful and avoid provocateurs.
“Apartheid in South Africa was not dismantled in one day. Even the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe was prolonged,” Mutasa added.
“We have already been told, me and the secretary-general, that we are in trouble because of our press conference.
“We were told that the press conference was a declaration of war and that we had crossed the red line. What can we do? We can only depend on God for our protection,” he said further.
Meanwhile, Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere confirmed yesterday that their members had started demonstrations in Masvingo, where four of their members were later arrested.
“What we want to send is a message to the employer. If we don’t do this we are going to die of hunger.
“It is better that we face the consequences after we would have sent a message to the employer. There are risks associated with this but we have to send the message,” Chere said.
Among the four Artuz members who were arrested yesterday is the organisation’s Masvingo provincial secretary for gender and welfare, Sheila Chirisamhuru.
“The arrested are currently detained at Chikato Police Station facing charges of participating in an illegal demonstration.
“We take the arrest as a direct attack on the workers who were exercising their constitutional rights in demanding a living wage.
“The protests will continue in every province in the country until the employer pays us US$520 a month as our salary,” Artuz said.
On his part, police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said their heightened presence in communities was being necessitated by the national Covid-19 lockdown, which was put in place by the government to curb the spread of the virus.
“Remember the country is on national lockdown level two, which means that there are certain movements which are restricted.
“The deployments of members of the security sector will continue as we will be assessing the situation regularly.
“As you can see, the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing and others are escaping from quarantine centres,” Nyathi said.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said yesterday that the government was at sixes and sevens as far as the economic and political situation in the country was concerned.
“The ED government has no solution to this economic and political crisis and will resort to its default position which is violence and threats.
“Apart from the fact that the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) has failed to stabilise our politics, other platforms such as the Tripartite Negotiating Forum that brings government, labour and business have equally been ignored by the government.
“Essentially we are dealing with a political leadership that looks at every challenge as a nail that needs a hammer,” Mukundu said.