ZimRights said it has noted with concern the conviction and sentencing of Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) Masvingo Gender and Social Welfare Secretary Sheila Chisirimunhu (54) for exercising her constitutional rights.
In a Twitter thread, ZimRights said Chisirimunhu was arrested for holding a banner inscribed, “USD salaries now!” at Masvingo District Education Offices on 22 June this year and has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for that. Below is the post:
ZimRightsLIVE notes with concern the conviction and sentencing of ARTUZ Masvingo Gender and Social Welfare Secretary Sheila Chisirimunhu (54) for exercising her right to demonstrate as enshrined in section 59 of the Constitution.
Chisirimunhu was convicted and sentenced to an effective 10 months in prison and is at Mutimurefu Prison.
Chisirimunhu, a widow and has been a teacher for almost 35 years, was arrested on 22 June 2020 for demonstrating against low teacher’s salaries at Masvingo District Education Offices.
She was holding a banner inscribed, “USD salaries now!” For that, she charged with inciting public violence and released on 500 ZWL bail after spending a night in cells on the 23rd of June 2020.
Represented by Advocate Martin Mureri from [Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights], Chisirimunhu has been in and out of court until her sentence on December 21.
ZimRights reminds the State of Section 59 that guarantees the right to demonstrate and petition.
Peaceful demonstrations and petitioning against low wages in the civil service does not warrant any arrest nor imprisonment.
Section 65 of the constitution, (1) also states that: Every person has the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage.
It is therefore sad, for workers to be jailed for demanding fair and living wages. The government must respect human rights and freedoms as enshrined in the constitution.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said it will appeal against both Chisirimunhu’s conviction and sentence.