|14 Mar 2002
Police break up labour meeting
Police broke up a meeting on Thursday, March 14, of Zimbabwe's labour
movement called to agree plans on protest action in response to the country's
controversial presidential election.
The police declared the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) general
council meeting illegal under the terms of the Public Order and Security Act,
ZCTU General-Secretary Wellington Chibebe told IRIN. He said a new venue would
be found and the meeting, expected to agree plans for a mass stay away, would
eventually take place. "The labour movement has been surviving under these
conditions and we are used to these kind of acrobatics," Chibebe said.
As the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and civil society
groups continued consultations this week on the way forward, sources told IRIN
that a stay away was expected to be called by the ZCTU next week to protest
what they allege was a fraudulent poll that re-elected President Robert Mugabe
with 56 percent of the vote.
The MDC is also pursuing a legal challenge over the organisation of the
9-11 March election, which local monitors and some international observers
declared deeply flawed by intimidation, violence and irregularities in the
conduct of the ballot.
"The legal approach is only viable up to a point," University of
Zimbabwe political analyst John Mukumbe told IRIN. He said that the appointment
of allegedly pro-government Supreme Court judges meant that "it was very
unlikely that approach would lead to much". In a forecast of political unrest
to come, Mukumbe said: "It is naive to expect a dictator to allow a democratic
process to facilitate his removal ... A dictator can only be removed by a
public uprising. I think we are heading that way, though it is sad to say."
South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma arrived in Harare on Thursday
to meet members of the government. Earlier this week Zuma said in parliament
that South Africa now had the opportunity to be "innovative" in its approach to
engaging its northern neighbour. "Those discrediting Zimbabwe's electoral
process should listen to what the Africans are saying," Zuma reportedly said.
The Organisation of African Unity, Southern African Development Community
(SADC) ministers, South Africa, Nigeria, Namibia and Kenya have endorsed the
election. Western countries and SADC parliamentarians described the process as
flawed. The Commonwealth said in an interim report that the poll was held in a
"climate of fear" and was not free and fair. (IRIN)