"COSATU welcomes bail for ZCTU leaders"

Statement issued by trade union federation May 19 2008

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the decision by Zimbabwe High Court Judge, Ben Hlatshwayo, to grant bail to the President and Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibebe.

They were arrested on 8 May on charges of inciting people to rise against the government and uttering falsehoods, after they told workers gathered at Dzivaresekwa Stadium on May 1, that people were being killed during the current wave of political violence in the country. They have been held on remand until today. The case will be heard on 23 May 2008 at Harare Magistrates' Courts

COSATU however condemns the conditions of the bail which include preventing the two union leaders from addressing "any political gathering" until this matter is finalised and confining them to their home addresses.

Against the background of the forthcoming run-off presidential election, this is a blatant attempt to deny two important workers' leaders the right to freedom of speech and to participate in the election campaign, and is part of the regime's attempts to intimidate people.

COSATU therefore demands that the charges be unconditionally dropped and that Comrades Chibebe and Matombo be free to lead the trade union movement at this crucial time in the country's history.

Statement issued by COSATU May 19 2008