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.

Image removed.

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]

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 05/18/2008 - 22:25


Capitalists are the true enemy: Cosatu
Sapa Published:May 17, 2008

South Africa’s working class was turning its anger against immigrants instead of the "true enemy", the capitalists, socialist organisations said at a march held by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Johannesburg today.

The organisations agreed that foreigners and South Africans should unite against the problems of underdevelopment.

About 200 people had joined Cosatu and other left winged organisations at the Library Gardens in the Johannesburg CBD to protest against recent xenophobic attacks in Gauteng, the situation in Zimbabwe and soaring food prices.

While holding Cosatu banners saying "Africans United" protesters sang struggle songs and listened to speeches.

SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco) president Mlungisi Hlongwane said: "The issue of Xenophobia should end and it should end now."

He called for "man-made boundaries" of countries to be "demolished" to ensure all Africans free movement through the countries.

"Let us unite," he said.

"African people should understand that we are all brothers and sisters."

Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) handed out pamphlets saying a divided working class would win nothing more than exploitation and oppression.

Referring to the "crisis" of housing in South Africa, ZACF said: "A battle between South Africans and immigrants over who gets the houses will only prolong the crisis."

The organisation Keep Left blamed the government for underdevelopment saying it had been slow to meet its promises.

"If government had kept their promises to deliver houses and jobs, then no one would be fighting over this."

Keep Left said government should have set an example "long ago" about treating immigrants as "brothers and sisters".

"They were not loud enough condemning police attacks on immigrants in the Johannesburg Central Methodist Church (JCMC)."

The organisations Spartacist, a section of the international communist league, expressed a different opinion on South Africa’s underdevelopment issues.

While most organisations present supported Cosatu, Spartacist characterised the union federation as "pro-capitalist misleaders" and the ANC as "bourgouise".

"It is the ANC, SACP, Cosatu Tripartite Alliance government that overseas neo-apartheid capitalism under which the overwhelming majority are locked in grinding poverty and black people remain at the bottom," it said in a pamphlet.

Spartacist said ANC president Jacob Zuma had cloaked the crack down on immigrants with "empty words of sympathy", while police were regularly showing xenophobia themselves, encouraging mob attacks such as those in Alexandra this past week.

ZACF also said police were "no friends of immigrants", referring to the Central Methodist Church crackdown in the beginning of this year.

"[The police] is the force of repression that randomly takes people of the streets... checking for ID [identity] books and papers as they checked passes under the old regime."

The marchers left the Library Gardens heading for the Checkers Supermarket around noon to hand over a memorandum expressing concern about high food prices.

From there they were expected to march to the Home Affairs office to hand over another memorandum supporting freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe.

Cosatu calls for food nationalisation
Cape Town, South Africa
17 May 2008 02:20

About a hundred members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and other organisations picketed the gates of Parliament in Cape Town on Saturday morning to protest against rising food prices and call for freedom in Zimbabwe.

The event was to have been a march through the city, starting at Keizersgracht at 10am.

However, shortly after 11am, Cosatu Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich announced to the scattering of people gathered there that they would drive to Parliament and picket instead.

"We expected a bigger turnout given the centrality of the issues," he said.

Cosatu had commitments from the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party, the Treatment Action Campaign and other organisations that were represented at the picket.

"But clearly we haven't been able to bring the masses of the people along with us," he said.

Announcing the march earlier this week, Cosatu had said it would be a significant event "because it will be the first time in years that the alliance has marched together on the same issues and signifies the kind of unity and common purpose that has emerged from our people after Polokwane".

In a memorandum distributed at the picket, Cosatu and the SACP said they were demanding an end to "super profits" and massive salaries for executives, an immediate reduction in basic food prices and a freeze on future increases.

"We want that a state-owned enterprise -- or more of those, operating across the value chain of staple food products such as maize meal, bread, milk, some vegetables et cetera -- be set up within the next two years," the memorandum said.

The memo repeated Cosatu's demands for nationalisation of the mealie-meal, bread and milk value chains.

A memorandum on Zimbabwe called on the Southern African Development Community to deepen its diplomatic efforts to prevent a deterioration of the situation in that country. The African Union should also intervene immediately, and send a high-level delegation to Zimbabwe to halt the current escalation of violence.

"Progressive forces" worldwide should initiate discussions on an arms embargo, the memorandum said.

Also on Saturday, a Cosatu-organised march was held in central Johannesburg to protest against the past week's xenophobic attacks in Gauteng townships, as well as high food prices and the crisis in Zimbabwe. -- Sapa