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» 04.03.2011 - Zim treason charges for viewing Egypt on TV
» 29.11.2010 - US was against Zim unity govt
» 13.10.2010 - Zimbabwe war of appointments
» 07.10.2010 - Chiefs, army, farmers "plotting Mugabe victory"
» 29.09.2010 - Zuma asks EU to lift Zim sanctions
» 17.06.2010 - People asked to define Zimbabwe constitution
» 28.05.2010 - Zimbabwe talks dragging on
» 27.05.2010 - Zimbabwe's main free newspapers re-licensed

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Zimbabwe | South Africa
Politics | Labour

South Africans show solidarity with Zim opposition

afrol News, 27 June - Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says it is encouraged by the signals of solidarity from South Africa, especially from the COSATU trade union, which is distancing itself its government's non-acting attitude.

The MDC today said it was "deeply encouraged" by recent press reports alleging that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), at a meeting held on 28 and 29 May, resolved to pressurise for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

- For the millions of people suffering in Zimbabwe, as a result of Mugabe's failed and irresponsible policies, a demonstration of solidarity from a key constituency in South Africa is a welcome boost during a time of perpetual despair, said MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. "COSATU was at the vanguard of the struggle for democracy in South Africa and therefore can fully appreciate the suffering of Zimbabweans under Mugabe's tyranny," Mr Nyathi added.

He added that there now was "a growing realisation and acknowledgement, at the regional and sub-regional level, that Mugabe's portrayal of the Zimbabwe crisis as one centring on the land issue, is grotesquely misleading and simply deployed for the cynical purposes of political expediency."

- This has never been a crisis about land, it is a crisis of governance and legitimacy, said Mr Nyathi. "The hundreds of thousands of workers who took part in recent stayaways were not protesting about land, they were protesting about jobs, food, an end to political violence and a return to democracy and the rule of law," he added.

Workers rights in Zimbabwe have been systematically violated, the MDC said, addressing the South African trade union. "Politically motivated dismissals and retrenchments and the constant harassment and arrest of trade union leaders underlines the vulnerability of the labour movement under the Mugabe regime."

- After the successful MDC stayaway of 2-6 June, the Mugabe regime decided to punish public sector workers by declaring their intention to ban them from engaging in future strike action. Such actions highlight the Mugabe regime's increasing determination to crush workers' hard earned rights, said Mr Nyathi.

- As a political party that champions the rights of workers, and one that essentially grew out of the trade union movement, the MDC welcome signals that COSATU is committed to taking tangible steps to help resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, the party spokesman said.

COSATU spokesman Patrick Craven in the union's most recent Zimbabwe statement had urged the Zimbabwean government to "stop trying to humiliate opposition leaders." COSATU condemned the Zimbabwean government's arrests and re-arrests of leaders of the MDC. "This attempt to humiliate Morgan Tsvangirai other MDC leaders will solve nothing," Mr Craven said.

- Instead we urge the government to treat the opposition as partners in negotiations to reach a settlement of the country’s severe political and economic crisis, the COSATU spokesman said.

The COSATU Central Executive Committee on 29 May had resolved to support the call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for an interim government and the drafting of a new constitution on the basis of which fresh elections should be conducted. It further resolved to support the call by the international community for free political activity, the repeal of the draconian laws that limit freedom of speech and free political activity and the restoration of the rule of law.

- The Zimbabwe government should learn from the history of apartheid South Africa, said Mr Craven, "where the white minority government repeatedly used arrests, trials, torture and the abuse of human rights to remain in power, but were forced in the end to reach a negotiated settlement with the ANC and its allies."

The MDC, with their substantial electoral support, would have to play a role in any negotiations on a settlement in Zimbabwe, the COSATU spokesman said, "and we therefore urge the government to swallow their pride, release all political prisoners and open up talks with all parties and civil society organisations, as proposed by the ZCTU."

South Africans at large are angered by their government's unwillingness to pressure Zimbabwe President Mugabe. Civil society, opposition parties, trade unions and ordinary citizen are generally outraged by the undemocratic methods used by the Mugabe regime.

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