ZCTU, police head for nasty showdown

HARARE - A showdown is looming between police and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions ZCTU) after the latter filed a court application yesterday seeking to be granted permission to carry on with their demonstration over the recently introduced tax regime.

This comes after the police reiterated that last month’s ban on public gatherings still stands and ZCTU cannot be allowed to carry on with their planned protest.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said they are mobilising people to come in their numbers today (Thursday) while they are still waiting for the court’s verdict on the matter.

“We want to mobilise people to come tomorrow (today) so that we can show this regime that we are not happy as workers.

“Our lawyers are in the process of filing a court application against the police ban as it is against the country’s laws.”

With ZCTU taking a legal route, pressure group Tajamuka has vowed to continue with their planned demonstrations despite the police ban.

“We are going on with our demonstration. The police have no constitutional mandate to stop peaceful gatherings and peaceful protests,” Tajamuka spokesperson Prosper Mkwananzi said.

Tajamuka has written to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, saying it will take to the streets if the demands of reducing two cents tax are not met.

Ncube came up with a biting tax regime last week, when he introduced a two cents per dollar taxation for electronic transfers, up from five cents per transaction.

Amalgamated Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) said the ban is wrong, hence they are mooting a stay away.

“The move (to ban the demonstration) is ridiculous and unacceptable. We are left with no option but to resort to stay away. For the education sector this will derail the on-going examinations, the government is to blame for the mess.”

Artuz said their members will not go to work on October 22 and 23 in protest against underpayment.

“This stay away is the only feasible way for us to register our discontent since street protests have been banned. We are demanding our salaries in United States dollars in line with the negotiations of 2012, if government pays us in US dollars the stay away will be called off.”

Artuz added that the government does not want to listen to the plight of Zimbabweans as they have petitioned them on various occasions but they didn’t get any response.

“Our members have been left with no option but to down tools in protest.

“We urge other teachers outside our Union to join hands with our fighting Union on this job action. Our humanity is being stolen and very soon all our dignity will be gone.”

Zimbabwe has been experiencing a serious economic crisis that has seen an increase in the shortages of basic commodities, whose prices have also been hiked.

The other resultant effects of the tax regime have been shortages of fuel and the increase in prices of basic commodities, burdening ordinary consumers in the process.

Some retailers have started limiting goods in a bid to avoid hoarding, as people have been buying items in large quantities for speculative purposes.

Products like sugar, rice and cooking oil are being limited to two items per customer.

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