Harare, July 30, 2014 – Police have foiled planned protests by some disgruntled workers over non-payment of past-due salaries and poor working conditions.
NRZ employees have gone for several months without receiving their salaries and allowances, a development which the rail company blames on the country’s depressed economy. The state-run line company has failed to honour commitments it made several years ago to clear all due salaries and allowances dating from 2009.
The failure to honour the commitments prompted the Zimbabwe Railways Artisans Union (ZARU), which represents the bulk of the rail workers to notify the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) that it would roll out demonstrations early next month in four of the country’s main cities namely Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare to protest against non-payment of their salaries and other challenges they are grappling with.
ZARU had requested the ZRP to provide escort and other assistance during the two-hour protest.
But the ZRP recently banned ZARU from staging the demonstration.
“My office regrets to advise you that your intended peaceful procession to take place on the 2nd of August 2014 from Main Railway Station to Africa Unity Square from 1000 hours to 1200 hours has not been sanctioned. As per our discussion held on 16/07/14 you may engage your employer and no procession should take place,” reads part of the ZRP letter written on July 22, 2014 to ZARU by Chief Superintendent Nesbert Saunyama, the Officer Commanding Harare Central District.
Zimbabwean workers are bearing the brunt of a worsening economic crisis blamed on mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe’s government.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which has its roots in the labour movement and the country’s largest labour alliance, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions have already threatened to roll out anti-government demonstrations to protest against the Harare administration’s failure to arrest the agonising economic crisis characterised by company closures, job losses and the failure to create jobs as promised by the ruling Zanu PF party in its 2013 election manifesto.
However, President Mugabe, who has been the country’s sole ruler since independence denies responsibility for mismanaging the southern African country once described as the bread basket of Africa and blames the MDC and its allies for campaigning for the imposition of targeted sanctions on himself and some of his lieutenants aimed at bringing down his government.