ILO inquiry shows evidence of systematic violations of rights in Zimbabwe

The first ever ILO Commission of Inquiry resulting from complaints by both worker and employer organisations has found evidence of systematic – and indeed systemic – violations of trade union rights in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. The report vindicates the complaints of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, that workers' and trade union rights' have been abused and trampled on by the ZANU-PF government. It's worth quoting the Commission's conclusions at length, and reading the response of ZCTU leader Lovemore Matombo, who will be visiting the UK in April.

The Commission of Inquiry concluded that: "there was systematic, and even systemic, violation of the [ILO] Conventions in the country. It saw a clear pattern of arrests, detentions, violence and torture of trade union leaders and members by the security forces coinciding with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) nationwide events, indicating some centralized direction to the security forces to take such action and a clear pattern of control over ZCTU trade union gatherings through the application of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). It noted the systematic targeting of ZCTU officials and members, particularly in rural areas, involving significant violence and anti-union discrimination in employment, in what appeared to be a calculated attempt to intimidate and threaten ZCTU members. It also noted with particular concern the routine use of the police and army against strikes, widespread interference in trade union affairs and the failure to guarantee judicial independence and the rule of law, resulting in a situation of impunity for those perpetrating atrocities.'

Although there have been improvements since the power-sharing agreement came into force last year, the ZCTU have published a dossier of continuing abuses over the past twelve months, and farmworkers' union leader Gertrude Hambira – for one – was recently forced to flee the country.

Zimbabwe is still not free. They still need our help.

Owen Tudor


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