Harare – The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has lost its bid to overturn a police ban on a planned nationwide protest, after their application was dismissed by a Harare magistrate.
The labour organisation’s president Peter Mutasa and secretary general Japhet Moyo were arrested alongside other union members at their ZCTU Harare offices.
According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) other members have reportedly were arrested in Mutare and Masvingo.
Mutasa and Moyo were granted $50 bail each today. (Saturday)
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) had refused permission for the mass action citing a recent nationwide Cholera epidemic that has killed more than 49 people.
The trade unionists were arrested and charged with contravening section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act 4 allegedly participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence&breaches of peace or bigotry.
There was visibly heavy police presence in the central business district of Harare, with water cannon trucks posted across the city centre and ordinary citizens being instructed they could not loiter in areas such as public parks.
The ZCTU had planned a demonstration against a two cents per dollar transactional tax announced by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube last week.
The new tax has been largely blamed for triggering sharp price increases, shortages of fuel and basic commodities and panic buying by consumers.
The Zanu PF government has mostly blamed other factors for Zimbabwe’s economic woes, such as the parallel market, speculation via social media and economic sabotage.
In an article by the Daily News, the ruling party’s secretary for information Simon Khaya Moyo claimed a “hidden hand” was manipulating the Zimbabwe economy.
In a statement from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), described the arrests as a “pre-emptive strike to thwart an anti-government protest organised by the labour union to protest it against government’s disastrous economic policies.”