Zimbabwe Union Leaders Arrested, General Secretary Forced into Hiding
GAPWUZ, the agricultural and plantation workers union in Zimbabwe is again under attack. General secretary Gertrude Hambira is currently in hiding and at least one official under arrest.
On February 19, Hambira and other union officials were summoned to Police General Headquarters where they were questioned about a documentary, the House of Justice, and its accompanying report, If something is Wrong. This film was launched under the auspices of the ZCTU in November 2009 and has been in the public domain ever since. The film contains farmworkers testimonies of murder, torture and violence perpetrated by state agents.
Everyday, since February 19, police detectives have visited the GAPWUZ HQ to question and harass staff. Gertrude was forced into hiding but police have continued to stalk the unions' staff. On February 25, two officials were arrested – the assistant general secretary, Gift Muti, and president Manjemanje Munyanyi. Gift Muti was later released but Bro. Munyanyi remains in police custody.
IUF has called on the ILO to launch an urgent intervention to protect Gertrude Hambira and the other GAPWUZ staff. In a letter to ILO director general Juan Somavia, IUF general secretary Ron Oswald calls on the ILO office "to contact both the President and the Prime Minster of Zimbabwe to convey our concerns and to insist that Hambira is not harmed and her physical and psychological well-being is fully assured".
Similar messages have also been sent to Zimbabwean missions in several countries and Amnesty International has launched a support appeal which IUF is supporting. Click here to link to the Amnesty campaign and to fax a message to the Zimbabwe government.