Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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‘Security forces blocking unionists from Tribunal’

‘Security forces blocking unionist from Tribunal’

by Caroline Mvundura Saturday 20 March 2010

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s security forces, who have hounded trade unionist Gertrude Hambira into hiding in South Africa, want to prevent the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) leader from attending a regional court hearing on commercial farmers later this month, a top official revealed Friday.

Hambira fled to South Africa last month after Zimbabwe’s feared secret agency – the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) – and officers from the law and order section at the notorious Harare Central Police Station raided her offices several times in an attempt to arrest her for releasing a video showing how President Robert Mugabe’s supporters committed rights abuses and other crimes against farm workers.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity said security agents feared that Hambira’s involvement at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal could help strengthen and legitimise the case of
hundreds of white commercial farmers seeking redress at the regional court after they were forced off their farms.

This, according to the source, could force other regional leaders to act on Zimbabwe.

“The pressure is that they fear Hambira will actively participate at the hearing and use our report to buttress the fact that farm workers were affected by land reforms. This could prompt regional leaders to try to act on Zimbabwe. In their latest raids on our offices, they had been talking about the Tribunal,” said the official, adding the security forces had continued to raid the GAPWUZ head offices in Harare anticipating that they
may swoop on Hambira and other top unionists.

The official said the police had tried to pry on any evidence linking the union to the upcoming Tribunal.

Efforts to talk to Hambira were fruitless on Friday but on Monday, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) expressed serious reservations on the interference of the country’s security forces in trade unionism.

The GAPWUZ video that is also accompanied by a report highlights how basic labour laws were violated and contains evidence of people who were beaten up, harassed and sometimes shot by Mugabe’s militia under the guise of redistributing arable land previously in the hands of whites.

The decade-long farm invasions which the 86-year-old Mugabe says were necessary to ensure blacks also had access to arable land that they were denied by previous white-led governments have been blamed for plunging
Zimbabwe into food shortages.

Once a net food exporter Zimbabwe has avoided mass starvation over the past decade only because international relief agencies were quick to chip in with food handouts. – ZimOnline  


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