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South Africa: A victory for workers' solidarity with the Zimbabwean people

By Patrick Craven, COSATU

April 22, 2008 -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the statement by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman that the China Ocean Shipping Company which owns the An Yue Jiang, has decided to recall the ship because Zimbabwe cannot take delivery of the 77 tonnes of weapons and ammunition onboard.

If true, this is an historic victory for the international trade union movement and civil society, and in particular for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), whose members refused to unload or transport its deadly cargo.

Protest banner being removed from China's Pretoria embassy.

Protest banner being removed from China's Pretoria embassy. 


Today's meeting between the COSATU general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi and the secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti, confirmed beyond all doubt that the people of Zimbabwe are now facing a massive crisis -- a brutal onslaught from a regime that is determined to cling to power by stealing the elections and imposing its will through violence.


[For more background, go to and check the comments at the end of the article.]


In COSATU's view the ``government'' of Robert Mugabe is now illegal and illegitimate. Its term of office expired at the end of March when the people voted. Its has refused to release the results of the presidential
election and has illegally organised a recount of votes in 23 constituencies in which the ruling ZANU-PF lost narrowly to the MDC, long after the time limit of 48 hours had expired. It has even been ``recounting'' the presidential votes in those constituencies before they had been announced.

Combined with this blatant vote-rigging, the ruling party has unleashed a systematic campaign of violence against MDC members and supporters, which has already claimed at least ten lives. Thousands have been
displaced from their homes, five hundred injured and hospitalised and these numbers are increasing by the day.

Meanwhile the ``government'' is continuing to rule illegally, with the former ministers restored to their posts,even those who lost their seats in the parliamentary elections. COSATU demands that the governments of Africa refuse to recognise this despot who is desperately hanging on to power, and to stop inviting him to meetings of the Southern African Development Community or the African Union.

COSATU salutes the stand taken by its transport affiliate SATAWU and other unions around the continent, and now calls upon all its affiliates and Southern African trade union partners, to identify, and refuse to handle, any goods destined for Zimbabwe which could be used to assist the illegal government or be used to oppress the people.

The federation will be holding a meeting with civil society, church and NGO groups on Thursday, 24 April, at which plans will be finalised for a huge protest march in South Africa, in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, and to demand the removal of the Mugabe dictatorship and the installation of a government elected by a majority on 29 March 2008.

Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Braamfontein, 2017
P.O. Box 1019
Johannesburg, 2000
Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24
Fax: +27 11 339-5080/6940/ 086 603 9667


[Patrick Craven is COSATU's national spokesperson. Visit]

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