Felex Share and Prosper Dembedza
A planned demonstration by MDC-T activists masquerading as teachers’ representatives, flopped yesterday with less than 20 people turning out for the march while three were arrested for taking part in the illegal protests.
This comes as the Apex Council, a body that represents civil servants in salary negotiations, disowned the organisers of the demo, the Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Activists Alliance.
The illegal demonstrators were a combination of MDC-T activists, vendors and zinasu students who wanted to take advantage of delays by Government in paying salaries to some civil servants.
The civil servants, who were supposed to be paid last Tuesday, get their salaries today.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed the arrest of the trio whom she said were assisting with investigations.
“I confirm that MDC-T youths, touts, vendors and members of zinasu carried out an unsanctioned demonstration along Nelson Mandela today (yesterday) but were quickly dispersed by the police,” she said.
“As the police, we will not sit and watch these unsanctioned demonstrations happening because they are unacceptable and we are going to arrest those involved in such activities.”
The group intended to march from Market Square to the Ministries of Finance and Economic Development and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare offices to hand their petition.
RTUZ leader, Mr Obert Masaraure, admitted their march was unsanctioned.
“We applied to them (police) and they did not respond,” he said. “We know it is during the festive season and they have many duties but we are going ahead with the demonstration.”
Bona fide civil servants representatives disowned the union saying it was clear they were political activists who wanted to capitalise on the situation to gain cheap mileage.
In any case, they said civil servants were regrouping today under the banner of the Apex Council to prepare for a meeting with Government negotiators tomorrow.
This comes after the workers last week had a meeting with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr John Mangudya, who assured them that their 2015 bonuses would be paid and pay dates would be consistent this year.
The civil servants, who had threatened to go on a nationwide strike, called off their plans after Dr Mangudya took them through what Government had in its coffers.
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive, Mr Manuel Nyawo, said the botched demonstration yesterday was organised by “overzealous individuals masquerading as teacher representatives.”
“It is common knowledge that they are coming from an opposition political background where they think they can destabilise the State and cause political mayhem countrywide,” he said.
“We know that they were brought into the trade unionism only for purposes of pushing the regime change agenda. All they are doing is testing the waters to see how much political support they have in preparation for tomorrow. If they are genuine, let us tell them that all unions table their challenges through the Apex Council and any issues synonymous with their perceived concerns are best and formally discussed via that platform. This is why we are having Apex Council meeting tomorrow (today).”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association president, Mr Richard Gundane, said: “We do not know them and we were surprised by their methodology. We are not aware of their activities and we have never seen them anywhere near where we negotiate.”
Government is yet to pay some civil servants but teachers and some members of the uniformed forces got their salaries last Tuesday and before Christmas Day respectively.