Magistrate Richard Ramaboea said the police had no business in disrupting the labour organisation’s meeting.
Matombo and ZCTU staff members Michael Kandukutu, Dumisani Ncube, Nawu Ndlovu, and Percy Mcijo were arrested for allegedly convening a political meeting without authority from the police as outlined by provisions of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
Ramaboea ordered the police to fully acquaint themselves with the country’s laws as he said the trade union activists were not covered under Posa.
Ramaboea refused to place the five on remand when they were finally brought to court yesterday, four days after their arrests.
According to one of the ZCTU lawyers Gugulethu Mahlangu, Ramaboea ruled that there were insufficient facts to suggest that the five union leaders had committed an offence.
Mahlangu said: “The magistrate said the accused persons were not covered under Posa to inform the police of their meetings. He said there was no need to inform the police.”
ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe in a statement after the release of the activists said there was urgent need to reform the police for it to work independently.
Chibebe said: “The comments made by the police through state-owned media that the ZCTU should have sought police clearance before holding the meeting smack of a police force that acts on political decisions and not on whether one has a case to answer or not.
“This is not the kind of police that Zimbabweans want, but unfortunately we have to live with such. This points to the fact that we definitely need to reform the police so that we have a professional non-partisan force. The infamous Posa clearly does not cover trade unions but the police continue to disrupt trade union activities in the name of Posa. The police should be undoubtedly ashamed of their actions.”
Chibebe expressed disappointment in the actions of the inclusive government, particularly those of the co-Ministers of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi saying the ministers have failed this nation.
“The best present they can offer Zimbabweans is to resign,” he said.
This arrest of the five unionists was also condemned by the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa).