International: Zimbabwe demostrators speak out

Zimbabwe demonstrators speak outOn September 13, members of the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions were arrested and beaten up for taking part in a demonstration. We give you extracts and images from interviews with ZCTU demonstrators, recorded on a cellphone.

Why we were demonstrating:”We wanted to show the government and the world at large that we Zimbabweans are suffering. * We need drugs for HIV* we want tax to be lowered* the money that we are being paid is peanuts. Government regulates fuels prices, school fees but at the end of the day we only manage to feed our children one meal a day. We want better salaries.”

On the demonstration:”We (about 200 – 250 of us) started walking on the street but we were surrounded by (about 30) police with guns and security intelligence and 45-50 police holding batons. We had hardly walked 10m when they beckoned us to stop. They ordered us to sit on the ground.Then they ordered us to get into the Mazda (police) truck with a canopy.15 of us were bundled into the pick up truck. Before the door could be closed, they were beating up Chibebe and Shoene (with their batons) so that they could force the door to close.”

At the police station:”They took us to the police station. They took us two at a time and led us to a cell. Five of them in police uniform were indiscriminately beating us. When they failed to deal with me, they beat me on the head and that’s when I fell down to the ground.They kept saying to me why do I want to return the country to the whites.They beat me so hard on my buttocks, on my back, three times they banged my head against the wall. They clapped me on my cheek until my right ear bled. The doctor tells me that my right ear is perforated. I was praying for them to stop.I asked them, “Why are you beating us?””Because you want to take the government,” they said.”No,” I said, “the issue is a bread and butter issue.”

On the future:”The pressure has to continue. I hope that what happened to us is a source of inspiration to others. Our suffering should not be in vain. A dictator cannot be defeated without us throwing stones.”

——————————————————————————————ELECTION ROUND-UPPresidential elections across the world have seen more victories for progressive forces:

Brazil Former metalworker Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva (Lula) has once again been re-elected as president of Brazil and will now serve his second term of office. Elections for president had to be repeated after Lula failed to win a sufficient majority in the first round of elections.Lula has promised to put the poor as top priority in his second term.

Nicaragua Former socialist leader of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, has won this Central American country’s presidential election. He will take up office in January 2007.Once a leader of the revolutionary movement, the Sandinistas, which held power from 1979 to 1990, the country has since then been run by conservatives.Ortega who is now 60, has promised to try and attract desperately needed foreign investment into the country and root out “savage capitalism”.

USUS President George Bush has lost control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives to the Democratic Party. In the wake of his defeat, his secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld has resigned. The defence secretary is regarded as having master-minded the US’ entry into Iraq.Some analysts are saying that the fact that the Democrats have taken the House of Representatives is even more significant because within the Democratic Party in the House, a progressive caucus now dominates. Only time will tell if these events will signal any change in the US’ involvement in Iraq!

Congo As Numsa News went to print, incumbent president Joseph Kabila had been declared the provisional winner of the presidential elections securing 58% of the vote as against his rival Jean Pierre Bemba. Bemba is already crying fraud during the counting of votes.

Around the world with NumsaCanada: Neo Chabane, researcher attended a IMF trade workshopSwitzerland: Ben Khoza, first vice president, and Neo Chabane, researcher attended a ICFTU/FES trade negotiators workshopNigeria: Silumko Nondwangu, general secretary and Selinah Mphuthi, gender coordinator, attended the IMF West African sub-regional meetingGermany: Mphumzi Maqungo, General Motors shop steward, attended a GM meeting organised by IMF/FES

VWSA worker joins Brazilian strikeWhile on a 2-month company sponsored spray-painting training course in Brazil, VWSA shop steward from the Uitenhage plant, Mzwabantu Mantla, found himself participating in a strike by VW, Audi, Renault and Volvo workers for higher wages.Workers downed tools on September 20 after employers offered them a 1.3% increase with a R$150 bonus. A week later, employers upped their offer to 4.19% increase in September, a further increase of 0.78% in January and a R$700 bonus in February.