THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says it hopes the new Labour minister Nicholas Goche is a repentant man, as it blames him for the arrest and torture of the union leadership seven years ago.
Speaking at commemorations to mark the seventh anniversary of the bashing of its leaders, ZCTU western region chairman Reason Ngwenya said Goche’s return to the ministry opened old wounds of what they described as a gruesome attack on its leadership.
“I hope Goche will not repeat what he did in Harare in 2006,” he said. “Goche, you know you were responsible for that, just repeat it and you will see.
“What we went through is enough, as we did nothing wrong by asking for our rights.”
In 2006, 147 ZCTU members were arrested for demonstrating demanding their salaries, from the union alleging that they were tortured. One of them is now permanently disabled.
Following running battles with police and following their arrest, the labour body resolved to commemorate September 13 as a reminder of what its members went through.
Ngwenya said this should serve as a warning for the new government and Goche in particular, that ZCTU will continue fighting for workers’ rights and will not accept authorities’ heavy handedness.
President Robert Mugabe last week appointed Goche to the Labour ministry, a previous stint at the ministry before the inclusive government.
The labour movement marched across Bulawayo, carrying placards demanding better pay and service delivery.
Speaking in a speech read on his behalf by ZCTU vice-president Sithokozile Siwela, the union’s president George Nkiwane said the bashing and the arrest of their leaders should never happen again.
“What happened in 2006 must not be allowed to happen again,” he said.
“How can the State use its machinery on unarmed people peacefully demonstrating for better wages and better living conditions? That was the highest point of intolerance.”
Goche could not be reached for comment, as his mobile phone was unavailable on Friday and yesterday.