Friday, August 15, 2008

Vavi Puts COSATU into the Fray

Here are comments from Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions). They show both an overt disgust with the events going on in Zimbabwe as well as a position that is in stark contrast to the 'softly, softly' , pro-Mugabe approach of South African President Thabo Mbeki.

This is part of a speech given at a trade union rally on August 10 in solidarity with freedom fighters in Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

Our message is clear – Zimbabwe and Swaziland cannot continue to be islands of dictatorship surrounded by a sea of democracy in our region. We demand freedom and democracy for citizens of both countries. We want democracy for the citizens of our neighbouring countries today and not tomorrow. For the freedom of workers in those countries we will fight until the last drop of blood in our bodies is dried up. We shall, with the same determination as we fought against the apartheid monster, continue to wage a struggle until all of us in the region can proclaim that we succeeded to free human kind from not only the bondages of oppression and repression but from the clutches of poverty.

As I said to the preparatory meeting for this conference, to us international solidarity is the lifeblood of trade unionism. To us there are no borders when it comes to practicing the universal slogan of the working class – an injury to one is an injury to all.

The need for this conference is underlined by deepening crises in both countries. The human rights abuses in Zimbabwe have scaled new heights. The beatings of ordinary people, the burning down of their property, the killings and torture continue as though the current negotiations means nothing to the illegal Mugabe regime.

Let us again statethat we support the ongoing efforts to negotiate a political settlement to the Zimbabwe crises. We accordingly wish President Thabo Mbeki and the other facilitators of these negotiations together with all parties involved good luck and success as they try to find lasting solutions to the Zimbabwe crises. We must however hurry to say we will not give these negotiations unconditional
support. To us the following issues are not negotiable.

Any settlement that does not recognise the will of the people as expressed in the 29 March elections will not be acceptable. It will represent an elite accord that can never enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.

  • The June elections were illegitimate and therefore the outcomes must not be recognised.
  • The government to be formed should be an interim government whose main task should be mainly limited to preparing for a fresh round of elections that will strictly adhere to the SADC elections protocols.
  • Violence, intimidation and use of state of institutions in a factional and partisan fashion must come to an end.

Whilst all these negotiations proceed and whilst we wish these talks
success, we know that we cannot let up the pressure on the Mugabe government.
There is no contradiction between negotiations to find a peaceful settlement
and the mass struggles and pressure. There is no settlement. There are rumours
to the fact that the settlement is near. We shall accordingly continue to pile
pressure until a settlement is reached that is based on our demands.

In the meantime we do not recognise Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe. We insist that he should not be invited in the SADC heads of state summit that takes place in South Africa on 15-17 August 2008. We shall accordingly protest his presence here. We call on COSATU members in Gauteng, as well as all progressive civil society formations and other freedom lovers to join us to register our disgust
at his presence through a march we are organising for 16 August 2008.

In this summit we shall present the draft programme we developed in the preparations meeting for discussion and adoption. We want a total isolation of Mugabe and his cronies.


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