Police in last minute demo ban
By Chengeto Chidi
CIVIL servants are livid after the police pulled a last minute shocker by banning a planned demonstration to petition government over poor salaries.
The civil servants have vowed to take the government to the International Labour Organization to report a violation of basic worker rights after the police blocked the demonstrations.
Apex Council president Cecilia Alexander said the last minute demonstration ban was not the end of the road.
“We are pained by having our time wasted by being given the go ahead to March then when we are marching we are told that the police have changed their minds and we are no longer marching. From here we will go to the ILO to report what has happened, it is clear, we were not allowed to petition, ” Alexander said.
Civil servants who in the majority are earning less that USD$30 a day had planned a peaceful demonstration which would have ended with the petitioning government.
Police told the civil servants that only 5 of their representatives would be allowed to hand over the petition without giving any explanation.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe Secretary General Raymond Majongwe expressed disappointment in the government saying they were thwarting democratic space.
“What we are noticing here with the police is uncalled for, is unnecessary and unprovoked agression against workers by the police.”
He said the action by the police was a violation of workers rights and evidence that the current government is dishonest.
“What we are seeing is an example of a system that is failing to address it’s problems.”
Police formed barricades blocking access to the government complex, barring the civil servants from handing over the petition much to the anger of Majongwe.
“Workers wanted to submit pertition not grenades and the lesson has been learnt, these guys we are dealing with are not honest, they gave you a green light to submit the pertition, when you were not there they called the police to create barricades, ” Majongwe said.
He also cleared claims that the demonstration was intended to serve political interests.
“The voices here that I have heard are not fighting to remove ED, they are fighting for food on their table, ” he said.
The combined teachers’ unions are demanding that the salaries they were earning before the reintroduction of the ZWL$ be paid at the prevailing interbank rate.
After being barred from handing the petition the civil servants tore it in anger.
Rural Teachers’ Union leader Obert Masaraura called for all members of the unions to unite in solving the problem they are facing,
“We have reached the stage where we have to unite as civil servants and all unions, dialogue no longer works for these people,” he said.
Civil servants have resorted to other ways to make the government take heed of their demands claiming dialogue has failed.
“Our president informed us that we will not be submitting any pertition today or any day from now and when we will no longer be going to work we will be spending time in the streets, protests will be done every week and they will not only be done in Harare but other provinces as well,” Masaraura said.