The month of September was characterised by the brutal assault of ZCTU members and other civil society activists on 13 September by the police, Army and CIO operatives. The ZCTU organised country-wide demonstrations protesting amongst other issues, that minimum wages and salaries be linked to the Poverty Datum Line (Z$ 100 000), that anti-retroviral drugs be made easily accessible and affordable, and that the income tax band be reduced to a 30% maximum. The protests occurred in Harare and Mutare. In Harare, demonstrations were held in the city centre where 15 members of the ZCTU were arrested and seriously tortured at the infamous Matapi Police Station.
The police thwarted another demonstration at Willowvale Industrial Area through the use of excessive and unwarranted force. In Chitungwiza ZCTU demonstrators were arrested and detained overnight at Makoni Police Station. The victims were heavily assaulted and only released after they had paid Z$250 admission of guilt fines. The Human Rights Forum notes with dismay that the police continue to use excessive force in harassing and thwarting civic protests.
The Forum reiterates the plea that we have made in other reports and fora that the police should exercise professionalism and use minimum force when dealing with civilians.