Friday, December 26, 2014 Local time: 22:00

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International Rights Groups Protest Rise in Persecution of Zimbabwe Unionists

In a strongly-worded letter to President Robert Mugabe, the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council urged him to instruct his supporters, the police and security services to refrain from targeting trade union leaders.

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Gibbs Dube

Some international human rights and trade union organizations have expressed shock and outrage at the recent upsurge of pressure on trade union leaders and civic groups in Zimbabwe by the state security apparatus.

In a strongly-worded letter to President Robert Mugabe, the Botswana-based Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council urged him to instruct his supporters and the Zimbabwean police and security services to refrain from targeting trade union leaders and any other Zimbabwean citizens.

The letter signed by Coordination Council Executive Secretary Austin Muneku condemned the continued arrest and harassment of trade unionists saying this was not acceptable in any country. Gertrude Hambira, the general secretary of the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe recently fled to South Africa following questioning by senior security chiefs, surveillance by security agents and searches of her home and office. Her union published a report on land reform alleging abuse of farm workers.

“We appeal to you His Excellency to create an environment in Zimbabwe that allows trade unions to operate without interference, threats and intimidation by state security agents,” the letter stated in part.

Muneku reminded President Mugabe that the arrest and intimidation of union officials and civic activists violated a number of international and regional conventions that Zimbabwe has endorsed.

The Geneva-based World Student Christian Federation also called on Harare to uphold the rule of law, saying the current session of the United Nations Human Rights Council should take note of the upsurge in political intimidation in the country.

World Student Christian Federation spokesman Marlon Zakeyo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that it is now time for Zimbabwe to reform under the inclusive government in place since February 2009.

He said that a year after the formation of the coalition government, the international community continues to look to the Zimbabwe leadership to demonstrate its commitment to genuine and irreversible reforms.

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