A May 13 statement from the Zimbabwe International Socialist Organisation (ISO) condemned "the arrest and detention of Zimbabwe congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo and Secretary General Wellington Chibhebhe on the 8th of May".
According to the statement, the unionists "are being held for stirring people to rise against the government and for allegedly reporting falsehoods on innocent people being killed by ZANU PF [the governing party] supporters across the country". The ISO described the arrests as one of the "dirty tactics" being used by regime of President Robert Mugabe to "intimidate workers and ordinary people" in the lead-up to a run-off election for a new president.
According to the statement, "Since March 29, 50 people have so far been killed, more than 4000 people displaced and some have had their homes burnt to ashes".
The statement highlighted the deepening economic crisis, noting: "The situation promises to be much worse in the
near future as the regime has adopted a full fledged neo-liberal economic line."
"This has impacted negatively on the livelihoods of the ordinary people", the ISO reported, "as already we have seen prices of commodities skyrocketing beyond what ordinary people" can afford.
The statement called for the release of the ZCTU activists, as well as the release of detained opposition politicians; an end to politically-motivated violence; and a non-taxable minimum wage linked to inflation.
A May 10 statement by the Congress of Sough African Trade Unions (COSATU) also condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the arrest of the ZCTU leaders. The statement described the arrests as "a blatant attempt to terrorise and intimidate the working class of Zimbabwe by a regime which is no longer a legal government since the elections of 29 March", which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are widely-believed to have won.
According to COSATU: "The arrests are further proof that the Mugabe regime has no intention of respecting the will of the people who voted his party out of office and who is determined to remain in office illegally by crushing all opposition." The statement demanded the unionists' "immediate and unconditional release and the dropping of the ludicrous charges".