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‘Zim national strike a flop’

22nd November 2003

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Zimbabwe's main labour grouping admitted yesterday that a two-day strike it had called to protest at the arrests of anti-government demonstrators early this week was a flop.

"The strike was not successful because workers got the (strike) notice very late," said Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) spokesperson Mlamleli Sibanda.

People in the capital Harare went about their business as usual yesterday, with many workers appearing unaware of the strike call.

Privately run commuter buses, which usually help determine the success or failure of national strikes by either withdrawing their fleets or maintaining service, plied their routes as normal.

The two-day strike had been called after scores of protesters, including union leaders and rights activists, were arrested on Tuesday during anti-government demonstrations over the crumbling economy.

All the protesters arrested in the capital were freed Thursday on bail and were due to appear in court yesterday to ask for charges against them to be dropped because they believe they did not commit any crime.

Police charged then with organising and participating in an unauthorised street demonstration.

The first day of the two-day strike to protest against the arrests coincided with the unveiling of the 2004 national budget, which gave little hope for an improvement in Zimbabwe's bleak economic outlook.

Finance Minister Hubert Murerwa predicted inflation would hit 700% next year, and that the economy would continue to shrink. – Sapa-AFP.

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