Several trade union activists including Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Peter Mutasa and secretary general Japhet Moyo have been arrested for attempting to demonstrate against the proposed two cents per dollar transaction tax.
The tax was announced last week and was supposed to be effective from 1 October but the government backed down when it was reminded that the tax could only apply after being gazetted.
The announcement, made at the same time as the central bank reintroduced foreign currency accounts throwing the local surrogate currency into turmoil, has seen prices of basic good rocket as fears of 2008 when hyperinflation reached 500 billion percent gripped the public.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube says the surrogate currency will continue to trade at par with the United States dollar and Afreximbank which backed the bond notes two years ago has offered to guarantee it.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change condemned the arrest of the labour leaders and the heavy presence of police in major cities calling it the “securocratisation” of the state.
“We strongly condemn the brutal attack and subsequent unwarranted arrest of the ZCTU leadership, its President Mutasa and the Secretary General Mr Japhet Moyo,” the party said in a statement.
“This is a flagrant violation of section 59 of the labour rights as enshrined in our national constitution. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of these esteemed fighters for democracy and peoples’ rights. We again appeal to the regional and international bodies to condemn such continued acts of blatant violations of the people’s fundamental rights by the ZANU-PF regime.”
The MDC said the heavy police deployment in the cities are not only an affront to democracy but a serious indictment of the people’s fundamental freedoms of association and expression.
“That the illegitimate ZANU-PF government is inherently in a state of panic is no longer just a political rhetoric but a true reflection of a regime surviving on borrowed times as it grapples to contain the growing popular resentment and disillusionment with the state of affairs by the people of Zimbabwe,” the MDC said.
“It has come all too clear that the regime is clueless on how to solve the current economic catastrophe and is now resorting to brutal repression of discerning voices of the critical mass.
“The MDC unequivocally condemns such heavy handedness and calls on the regime to demobilize the security forces from the streets to allow people free movement as they go about their business.
“We are deeply disenchanted by the regime’s continued harassment of the citizens at a time they are struggling to survive another day in the face of the unprecedented economic malaise instigated by ZANU-PF’s scotch earthed polices.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he is going ahead with implementing the “painful but necessary” reforms to position the economy for recovery.