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Zimbabwe Trade Union Leaders Promise Further Demonstrations

Officials of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions say their rough treatment at the hands of police last week when they tried to stage mass worker protests have only strengthened their determination to carry out further demonstrations.

ZCTU Secretary General Wellington Chibhebhe, hospitalized after allegedly receiving a severe beating while in police custody, was transferred to Harare's Avenues Clinic on the weekend from Parirenyatwa Hospital. Union and family sources said he was slated for surgery on a badly injured hand later on in the week.

Police, meanwhile, maintained a heavy presence in the capital Monday, breaking up any groups of more than two people that formed. But sources in the opposition and civil society said more protests are in store starting later this week with the aim of forcing President Robert Mugabe to initiate political and economic reforms.

Officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction led by the party's founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, declined to reveal its plans. But the National Constitutional Assembly said it would hold demonstrations later this week in Harare, the second city of Bulawayo, Gweru in the Midlands, Kadoma and Masvingo.

ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo spoke with reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe about the union's position following last week's setbacks.

Harare's severe response to the trade union's attempted protest march last week continued to draw criticism from around the world.

In Washington, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest U.S. labor organization, organized a protest demonstration Monday in front of the Zimbabwean Embassy in Washington in partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Labor Council and the Global Trade Union Movement.

AFL-CIO International Director Barbara Shailor told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele why the U.S. unions came out in support of their Zimbabwean counterparts.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...