FOURTEEN (14) leaders and members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) have been set free after a Zimbabwean court threw out disorderly conduct charges brought against the labour unionists and ruled that they did not commit an offence by staging a demonstration against poor salaries and working conditions.
ARTUZ leaders and members had been hauled before the courts after they were arrested on 18 December 2018 and charged with disorderly conduct in contravention of Section 41(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly blocking a road in Ruwa while holding and waving placards during a protest against poor remuneration dubbed “Salary Caravan”.
But Harare Magistrate Victoria Mashamba set free the ARTUZ leaders and members after ruling that the unionists had not committed an offence in staging an a protest against the country’s worsening economic crisis as they were simply exercising their constitutional rights as enshrined in Section 59 of the Constitution.
They were being represented by defense lawyers from ZLHR. The unionists’ lawyers Tinotenda Shoko and Kossam Ncube of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had challenged the placement on remand of their clients arguing that they had not committed any offence by waving placards and singing songs when they were arrested while protesting because they are a registered trade union which is exempted from notifying the regulatory authority (ZRP) as provided under the punitive provisions of the Public Order and Security Act. The defense submitted complains of bad treatment and sexual harassment by members of the ZRP. The presiding magistrate ordered the state to investigate the matter.
Meanwhile, the struggle continues. The Caravan will cruise again tomorrow 20 December 2018 starting at 9am from Engen Masasa and will hand over a petition to Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube at his office.
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)