Zimbabwean unions call-off mayday celebrations after death threats

ZCTU demonstrator with arm in a sling

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says it was forced to cancel May Day celebrations in four provinces after militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party allegedly threatened to murder union officials if the celebrations went ahead.

ZimOnline reported: Relations between Mugabe and the ZCTU are hostile with the workers’ federation blaming wrong government polices for plunging the economy and workers into misery.

In turn, Mugabe accuses the ZCTU of conspiring with his Western enemies and of using genuine worker grievances as pretext to instigate Zimbabweans to revolt and overthrow his government.

ZCTU national organiser Michael Kandukutu told ZimOnline that ZANU PF activists in the provinces of Mashonaland East, West, Central and Masvingo – all strongholds of the ruling party– had threatened to forcibly evict local union officials from their homes, assault or murder them as punishment for organizing workers’ rallies.

Kandukutu said: “We have had problems with some ZANU PF supporters who have told our union officials in district structures that they won’t allow the May Day celebrations to go ahead in their areas. They (ZANU PF supporters) were telling them that they should terminate their association with the ZCTU.”

ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira was not immediately available for comment on the matter.

Workers rallies are scheduled for Tuesday elsewhere across the country, with the main rally at Harare’s Gwanzura soccer stadium.

The ZCTU, which last March called a two day national strike to pressure the government to meet demands for better pay and living conditions for workers, is expected to use the rallies to mobilise workers for more strikes.

The union says it plans to call national job boycotts after every three months and would not relent unless the government urgently moves to end an economic crisis gripping the country for the past eight years and which has seen inflation soaring to over 2 000 percent, rising poverty, unemployment and severe shortages of food.