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International Community Praises Zimbabweans for Staging Mass Protests


Members of Tajamuka staging protests in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Members of Tajamuka staging protests in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Trade unionists in Africa and social justice activists have expressed support for striking Zimbabweans.

Speaking to Studio 7 on Wednesday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, during a joint African and European Union Economic and Social Stakeholder Network Conference, they called on the government of Zimbabwe to respect workers and voices of its citizens.

Ms. Rose Omamo, general secretary of Amalgamated Union of Kenyan Metal Workers, said the situation in Zimbabwe was very bad.

"As a leader in the Kenyan trade union and as a workers, I support the workers, the civil servants who are on strike fully, as the government has failed to pay its workers salary. What is happening in Zimbabwe is very bad. Workers’ rights are human rights so government should respect the people’s rights by paying the workers. So, I am in solidarity with workers in Zimbabwe."

The Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Committee’s executive secretary, Austin Muneku, said the workers deserved to take such action because the government has taken them for granted for a long time.

"If you are aware we have just returned from the ILO (International Labor Organization) in Geneva where the Zimbabwean case was tabled and government was said to be failing to pay its workers. We saw these things coming, the workers were just pushed to the limit and we got commitment from government that they will solve this but unfortunately this has not come to what we witness in terms of the job action, strikes and stay-aways happening. As an organization we actually support the action of the workers and we expect the government to seriously take the right action."

Others bemoaned the use of force by the government in a bid to crush public protests as what happened in some eastern suburbs of the capital, Harare, on Monday. At least 109 people were arrested following skirmishes between the police and members of the public.

Chief executive Michael Gowaseb of Namibia’s Economic and Social Justice Trust said government has to respect its citizens.

"As an activist myself we have empathy with Zimbabweans in what is happening to them. We really commend to civil servants and other workers in Zimbabwe in standing up for their rights and taking the democratic process and government should respect that. It must really listen to the people. We support the colleagues in Zimbabwe and call on the authorities to give way for the people demands."

Brussels-based, Zimbabwean and International Trade Union Confederation deputy secretary general, Wellington Chibebe, said people back home have genuine grievances.

"The government has been exposed in a terrible way. This is a sad development, instead of suppressing the emotions of the people the government should find lasting solutions (to their problems). People have genuine reasons. It is a common knowledge that if people are not gainfully employed they resort to other alternative means, they must therefore be complemented rather than being terrorized."

Government has not yet reacted to some of these concerns.

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