26 February 2002

Trade union leader abducted

he President of the Zimbabwe Civil Service Employees Association, Ephraim Tapa, and his wife Faith Mukwakwa, have been missing since the 16th of February when the vehicle they were traveling was intercepted by war veterans at Corner Store between Mutoko and Murewha.

Mr. Tapa’s two brothers, who were travelling in the car, were able to escape, although one of the brothers was shot in the arm. Mr. Tapa was coming from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union’s All Stakeholder meeting which had been held in Harare earlier in the day. From there he had proceeded to pick up his wife before starting on the journey. Mr Tapa is a member of the ZCTU General Council.

The abduction was reported to the police but no serious investigation has been carried out. The ZCTU has written a letter to Mr. July Moyo, the Minister for Labour and Social Welfare, who has been requested to pressure his counterpart from the Home Affairs to find the whereabouts of the couple. There are additional worries for the safety of the couple, as both are hypertensive and if alive, would need to have access to medication for their condition.

Trade unionists have been targeted particularly harshly because of their link with the Movement for Democratic Change, whose base is in the labour movement. During a campaign speech over the weekend, the Head of State, President Robert Mugabe specifically threatened that he would deregister the ZCTU.

Civil society groups have long been calling for the disbanding of the ZANU-PF militias and have pressured the police to take up their duty to protect citizens from harassment. The locations of the militia camps are known but no attempt has been made to shut them down even though it is clear that they are responsible for campaign of terror and brutality which has intensified each month in the rural and peri-urban areas. The area where the couple were abducted is known to be one of the “hotspots” where incidents of human rights violations have been particularly high. (ZCTU)

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