Lawyers say police in Zimbabwe arrested dozens of trade union members ahead of a planned protest in the capital Thursday over the worst economic crisis in a decade.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said police arrested Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions members in Harare and the cities of Mutare and Masvingo.
There was a heavy police presence in Harare after the government banned the protest, citing an ongoing cholera outbreak. The lawyers’ group said a magistrate dismissed a challenge of the ban.
Zimbabwe now has gas lines snaking for hours, prices spiking and some food and medicines running out. The government calls the problems temporary and a necessary pain in rebuilding the southern African country.
The lawyers called the arrests a pre-emptive strike on the protest against “disastrous economic policies.”
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) issued a statement on Thursday noting “with alarm the unwarranted heavy deployment of police in the streets of Harare and other cities.
“The apparent “securocratisation” of the state by the illegitimate Zanu PF Government is a clear antithesis of democracy and testimony of the regime’s continued ruling without the popular will of the majority of Zimbabweans.
“We strongly condemn the brutal attack and subsequent unwarranted arrest of the ZCTU leadership, its President Mutasa and the Secretary General Mr Japhet Moyo. This is a flagrant violation of section 59 of the labour rights as enshrined in our national constitution.
“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of these esteemed fighters for democracy and peoples’ rights. We again appeal to the regional and international bodies to condemn such continued acts of blatant violations of the people’s fundamental rights by the Zanu PF regime,” the party said. Associated Press/Staff Reporter