The propaganda campaign that began last week to instil fear in Zimbabwe’s workers continued on Wednesday as the job stay-away organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) went into its second and final day. State controlled media reports warned people to go to work and patrols in many areas maintained a fearful atmosphere.
The daily abductions of opposition officials and supporters continued with the kidnapping of Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ). Witnesses said he was abducted at gunpoint on Tuesday by suspected CIO agents in Milton Park, Harare. It turns out Majongwe is also a member of the ZCTU general council and the PTUZ is an affiliate of the national labour body.
Our contacts on the ground said some more shops and businesses that were closed Tuesday opened on Wednesday after tight security was deployed in the industrial areas. They said many people who went back to work on this second day did so out of fear of losing their jobs in a country where unemployment is above 80%. The few who were brave enough stayed home. In solidarity with the ZCTU, protesters demonstrated in Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa and at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London.
In South Africa solidarity with the ZCTU stay-away continued with a second day of protests organised by the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (Cosatu). One was in Johannesburg at the Zimbabwean Consulate and the other in Pretoria at the High Commission. There were no top union leaders at either venue as it was on Tuesday when COSATU’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi addressed the crowds. Craven said Vavi spoke out about the appalling economic situation in Zimbabwe and the attacks on opposition leaders. He also handed a memorandum about these issues to the Zimbabwe Embassy. Craven said the memo was accepted by a junior officer who angered the crowd with his dismissive attitude.
The ZCTU stay-away was also supported across the oceans in the U.K. where the Trade Union Council (TUC) and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) held a protest demonstration at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London. Alois Mbawara and his colleagues from the FreeZim pressure group were there in solidarity with the workers back home. Mbawara said although about 50-60 people turned up, the event was a success because it was a weekday at lunch time when no-one would normally be there. Protesters held placards with clear messages, including “Power to the working classes” and “Poverty Datum Line for Zim working class”.
Analysts have said businesses are the key to the success of mass action stay-aways. Employers should assure their workers that they would not lose their jobs and should support protests. In the end companies can only benefit if a democratic society can be created and the econo