The police like other members of the unformed forces are legally not supposed to take industrial action.
“An order has been circulated ordering the police not to disturb the strike as it was legalized by the government. This is surprising because as the police we have never been allowed to participate in any strike because it contradicts with our code of employment. The radio says we must not go to the strike in uniform,” sources at Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) told Radio VOP.
“We were told at a parade after the radio signal was read to us that we should join the strike because we are civil servants. They said if we join the job action this was going to push Minister of Finance Tendai Biti who is a senior member of the MDC to give us money. They said MDC was on record for saying it was going to give civil servants a hefty salary if they got in power, “said police officers who requested anonymity.
The Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change has already said it suspects a third hand in the civil servants strike by Zanu PF detractors who do not want the new unity government, which is a year old, to succeed. The fragile coalition government is threatened with collapse following a deadlock in talks to negotiate the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that brought about the unity government. The GPA talks have stalled due to disagreements about the appointments of governors, the Reserve Bank Governor and Attorney General. The MDC is also demanding the swearing in of its deputy Agriculture Minister Designate, Roy Bennett, currently facing terrorism charges. MDC says the charges against Bennett are trumped up. Zanu PF has demanded that MDC push for the removal of the Western sanctions and the banning of exiled radio stations.
Civil servants, led by APEX President and Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association Boss,Tendai Chikowore called on their members to go on strike following a deadlock with government on salary increase negotiations. The civil servants are demanding USD 600 from current USD 150.
Friday’s demonstration was the second one in two weeks, where the civil servants marched and gathered in Harare gardens and Africa unity Square where they were addressed by the APEX leadership and resolved to continue with the strike until their demands were heard.
In other parts of the country, teachers have been forced to join the strike. This week Masvingo teachers were forced to join the strike at gun point.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo condemned the politicisation of the civil servant’s strike.
“From the on-set of this job action we have been suspicious and we are watching it very closely. It’s surprising to see some of the strike drivers who for the past decade, during the economic crisis, refused to join us in such demonstrations but now are mobilising civil servants to strike. We know these people and some of them have openly declared their patronage to Zanu PF.
“We are also worried that the strike has been hijacked by these people to be a Zanu PF project aimed at denigrating Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a situation which is totally political not trade unionism. As ZCTU we are condemning the leaders of this strike who are short-changing genuine workers with genuine concerns,” said Matombo.