South African workers score victory for Zimbabwean people

April 26, 2008

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the statement by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson 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.

It is now 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.

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.

It 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 Movement for Democratic Change (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.

The ruling party has also unleashed a systematic campaign of violence against MDC supporters, which has already claimed at least 10 lives. Thousands have been displaced from their homes and 500 injured and hospitalised.

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 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 that could be used to assist the illegal government or be used to oppress the people.

COSATU is meeting with civil society, church and NGO groups to organise a huge protest march in South Africa to demand the removal of the Mugabe dictatorship and the installation of a government elected by a majority on March 29.

[Patrick Craven is COSATU's national spokesperson. Visit . This April 22 article is abridged from]

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