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The BBC's Alan Little reports
"The government strategy to hold on to power has entered a new and more menacing phase"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Zimbabwe May Day tension
Chenjerai Hunzvi and the so-called war veterans
War veterans' leaders are challenging the unions
Supporters of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF tried to disrupt a May Day rally in Harare.


We will not be intimidated by anyone

Union leader
Lovemore Matombo
They gathered at Harare's Rufaro stadium where a crowd of about 5,000 members of Zimbabwe's Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were meeting.

The leader of the Zanu-PF supporters Joseph Chinotimba was protected by riot place as the crowd jeered at him.

Fears of violence were not realised as the organisers cut short events to avoid confrontation.

Mr Chinotimba said that he had been asked by workers across the country to take over as leader of union movement.

He asked for workers to come forward to identify businesses that have been maltreating them.
White farmer and black worker
First farms, now towns are being targeted

ZCTU head Lovemore Matombo said: "We will not be intimidated by anyone... Go back to your homes, refrain from violence and provocation."

Recent weeks have seen self-styled war veterans, who were responsible for the invasions of white-owned farms, intervening in labour disputes on behalf of urban workers.

The war veterans say they want to replace the existing trade union leadership, and plan to join the workers' demonstration.

The war veterans say they can better represent the interests of urban workers.

The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, is a former secretary-general of the Confederation of Trade Unions and sees the war veterans' challenge as an assault on his support base.

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See also:

28 Apr 01 | Africa
EU warns Zimbabwe over threats
26 Apr 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe court boosts opposition
09 Mar 01 | Africa
Mugabe man named top judge
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