Zimbabwe police arrest 10 union officials as clampdown deepens

HARARE, Zimbabwe police arrested 10 union officials on Friday as they tried to petition the finance minister over low pay for teachers, witnesses said, extending a government clampdown on dissent that has hobbled the country’s main opposition.

Police bundled the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe officials into a truck outside the finance ministry. They also arrested the group’s lawyer, Douglas Coltart, and a journalist with online news outlet newzimbabwe.com who was filming the arrest, the witnesses said.

The union had been trying to present a petition to finance minister Mthuli Ncube over teachers’ salaries, which average around 500 Zimbabwe dollars a month.

The economy is mired in its worst crisis in a decade, and security forces have in the past week snuffed out five attempts by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to hold street demonstrations, dashing hopes that the government might live up to promises of becoming more tolerant of dissent than the one it replaced.

Authorities also moved against the party’s national organising secretary Amos Chibaya on Friday.

He appeared before Harare magistrates charged with failing to stop the demonstration the MDC tried to hold in the capital a week ago, planned as the launch event for a nationwide protest movement against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chibaya, who was not asked to plead, denies the charge. State prosecutors opposed his application for bail, saying he would likely commit the same crime.

Chibaya is also facing trial on subversion charges linked to violent protests in January that prompted an army crackdown that led to the deaths of more than a dozen people.

Source: NAM News Network