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Zimbabwe blocks foreigners from union meeting

Zimbabwe blocks foreigners from union meeting

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s main labour federation said on Wednesday authorities had barred a Norwegian observer and deported a Zambian unionist who had sought to attend its annual congress.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), an ally of the main opposition, has led protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government in recent years as workers grapple with an economic crisis widely blamed on government mismanagement.

“The ZCTU informs you that Nina Mjoberg, a representative of LO Norway, was denied entry into Zimbabwe this morning at the Harare International Airport,” the labour group said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This follows another deportation of Alice Siame from Zambia, a consultant. Both Nina and Alice were coming to Zimbabwe to attend the ZCTU congress,” it said, adding that it was seeking legal recourse.

Zimbabwe immigration officials were not immediately reachable for comment.

Authorities have over the last two years twice evicted South African union delegations during visits to their Zimbabwean counterparts, accusing the South African group of harbouring a “hostile agenda” against Harare.

The ZCTU warned Mugabe’s government earlier this month it would call for street demonstrations to press for wage increases amid soaring prices of basic commodities, rentals, school fees and transport costs.

Negotiations with private employers and the government over union demands on minimum wage hit an impasse last week.

The ZCTU, the MDC and other critics say Mugabe has run down the country since assuming power at independence in 1980, leaving Zimbabweans grappling with record inflation of more than 1,000 percent and crippling shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange. — Reuter

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