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LRN Urges Zimbabwe To Dismiss Charges Against Editor of Labor Federation Magazine

    Labor Rights Now urged authorities in Zimbabwe to dismiss all charges against the editor of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) magazine. Bright Chibvuri, who edits "The Worker," has been charged with practicing journalism without a license.

    His trial opened in Plumtree, Zimbabwe but was adjourned immediately after Trial Magistrate Mark Dzira said he did not feel well. Many magistrates in Zimbabwe have been on strike over poor salaries and working conditions.

    "The arrest of Brother Chibvuri is outrageous," Labor Rights Now President Don Stillman said. "It's clearly one more salvo in (Zimbabwe President) Robert Mugabe's war against working people."

    Chibvuri was arrested during a seminar put on by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and, after spending two nights in police custody, was charged with violating Section 83 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

    "This labor journalist had applied to the Media and Information Commission (MIC) and had been accredited as a journalist, so all the charges against him must be dismissed," Stillman urged. "This is both a crackdown on labor and on journalists and can't be tolerated."

LRN Seeks Probe of Zimbabwe Repression

    Labor Rights Now blasted Zimbabwe ruler Robert Mugabe for threatening even harsher repression of the country's trade unions. The 82-year-old dictator of Zimbabwe said in early 2007 that planned to postpone elections there set for 2008 so that he could have at least two more years in office.

    "Mugabe's 'sell by' date passed long ago," said Labor Rights Now President Don Stillman. "The massive violence against trade union activists several months ago, including their torture while jailed, requires universal condemnation by the international community."

    Stillman urged Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, to go to Zimbabwe to investigate the massive violations of labor and human rights under Mugabe's rule.

    Stillman also urged the European Union to continue its "smart sanctions" against the Mugabe regime. Those sanctions, enacted in 2002, include an assets' freeze, arms embargo, and visa limits on top regime officials.

    "We support the call by John Monks (general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation) and Guy Ryder (general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation) who've asked the European Union to maintain the sanctions against Zimbabwe," he said.

    On Sept. 13, 2006, the Zimbabwean police arrested about 265 union protesters engaged in a peaceful demonstrations on unemployment and food shortages. Many of those arrested suffered serious injuries while in detention. Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and Lucia Matibenga, first vice-president, both were beaten badly.

Stillman Rips Mugabe's Repression of Unions

    Labor Rights Now President Don Stillman blasted the arrests of more than 165 unionists in Zimbabwe, including top leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

    "American trade unions are outraged by the continuing repression of worker rights in Zimbabwe," Stillman said in a letter to Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe. "Your conduct as President is reprehensible."

    LRN expressed outrage over the jailing of Wellington Chibebe, ZCTU general secretary, and Lovemore Matombo, ZCTU president.

    The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) reported that they were arrested in early November 2005 in Harare at the starting point of the ZCTU's anti-poverty march organized to protest widespread hunger, unemployment, high inflation, and high transportation costs.

    Riot police armed with clubs and dogs ended the worker protest after only 10 minutes and arrested participants who were first taken to Harare Central Police Station and later moved to Chiutungwiza.

    The ICFTU said that protesters had planned to deliver a petition to the Labor Minister calling for fair wages, lower income taxes, availability of anti-retroviral drugs, and a halt to importation of cheap good from Asia.

    Protesters in other parts of Zimbabwe reportedly were jailed, including Percy Mcijo, Reason Ngwenya, and Dzavamwe Shambari—all regional officials of the ZCTU.

    "Labor Rights Now calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to release all the union activists currently detained, including Wellington Chibebe and Lovemore Matomgo," Stillman wrote to Mugabe in November 2005.

More Information

ICFTU's Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights in Zimbabwe

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