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Police clamp down on May Day celebrations in Zimbabwe

Police clamp down on May Day celebrations in Zimbabwe

Police banned union-organized May Day celebrations in three provincial towns and activities in a fourth were still in doubt late Monday, Zimbabwe's main labor federation said. It also accused the state of intimidating organizers in some districts.
The police ban applied to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, aligned to the opposition, and was not expected to affect smaller government-backed labor groups celebrating May Day Tuesday.
Kumbulani Ndlovu, an official of the main federation, said police denied clearance for parades in the towns of Marondera, Bindura and Norton, effectively banning them. Labor officials were still discussing with police whether activities could go ahead in the central town of Kwekwe.
Under security laws, political gatherings require police clearance.
Police were not immediately available for comment.
Labor activists have been targeted since the labor federation broke away from an alliance with Mugabe's ruling party in 1992 and backed the formation of the main opposition party in 1999.
Last month, the federation called a two-day national strike to protest economic mismanagement, acute shortages of food and most basic goods and spiraling unemployment. The strike was poorly observed, with most workers saying they couldn't afford to stop work.
In September, federation leaders were injured in police assaults as they tried to hold a protest march that had been declared illegal by police.
The government claimed the labor activists were resisting arrest and police used "reasonable force" to restrain them. But independent medical reports said at least seven of the leaders suffered broken bones in assaults once they were jailed in Matapi police cells in western Harare, one of the capital's harshest jails.
At least 40 opposition activists, including Morgan Tsvangirai, a former secretary general of the federation who leads a faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, were injured _ mostly in custody _ after police violently crushed a scheduled prayer meeting in western Harare's Highfield township on March 11.
Police said the prayer meeting was a banned political rally and President Robert Mugabe said afterward further protest would also be crushed with similar force.
Zimbabwe is reeling from runaway inflation of 2,200 percent, the highest in the world, and acute shortages of hard currency, gasoline and imports, along with an HIV/AIDS epidemic that kills at least 3,000 people a week. The agriculture-based economy collapsed after the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000.


Updated : 2021-06-17 17:33 GMT+08:00