Zimbabwe - Arrest of ZCTU leaders for calling a peaceful stay away action

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General Japhet Moyo and President Peter Mutasa were taken into custody respectively on 21 and 25 January 2019, following the recent nationwide peaceful protest that was brutally repressed by police forces and the army. Moyo was arrested 21 January 2019, and Mutasa presented himself for arrest in the company of his lawyer 25 January, after being forced into hiding for several days. A few days prior to Mutasa’s arrest, police had broken into his home while he was out and allegedly assaulted his brother. While Mutasa was in hiding, ZCTU staff reported avoiding their offices for fear of police seeking his whereabouts.
Moyo and Mutasa were released from police custody on 4 February on US$2,000 bail each, but remain charged with subversion for “mobilising the nation to participate in anti-fuel hike protests”. Strict release conditions are preventing them from traveling to carry out duties they were elected to perform on behalf of the union members they represent. Mutasa must reportedly check in with police, in person, every day, while Moyo is required to check in similarly with police three times per week. Moyo adds that he was forced to give up the deed to his personal home as a guarantee against skipping bail.
ZCTU has faced other threats from authorities in recent months as Zimbabwe’s economy founders, and inflation and price hikes further complicate Zimbabwean workers’ lives. Mutasa and Moyo – along with 33 other trade unionists – were arrested and later released in October last year during an attempt to stop a national workers’ protest against a financial tax increase and rising prices. Some trade unionists were beaten, ZCTU Harare offices were cordoned off by some 150 police and ZCTU leaders not already in jail were forced into hiding.

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