Cosatu seeks nod to return to Zim

Godfrey Marawanyika/Ndamu Sandu

THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has applied to the government to send a high-powered delegation on a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by the end of the mon

th, two months after officials from the organisation were deported.

The purpose of the visit is to find out how the current crisis is affecting workers. Cosatu wants to include in the delegation militant secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi and president Willie Madisha.

Vavi and Madisha were not part of the Cosatu delegation that was bundled out of Zimbabwe in November.

The application was made just before the Christmas holidays. Cosatu spokesperson Peter Craven in an interview yesterday confirmed that they had applied to the government for permission to visit Zimbabwe.

“We did not only write to the Zimbabwean government explaining why we want to come,” said Craven.

“We also wrote to labour and other stakeholders. We wrote the letter just before the holidays and we are still waiting for a response from the Zimbabwean government.

“We want to get a better understanding of what is happening on the ground by talking to all stakeholders,” he said.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington Chibebe on Wednesday confirmed that Cosatu had sent the application to be admitted.

“They did write a letter to the government but they are still to get a response,” he said.

The South African labour body had planned its mission to Zimbabwe for this month but it is still waiting for the response.

Public Service minister Paul Mangwana could not be reached for comment as he was said to be at his farm by the person who answered his phone.

Cosatu’s last visit to Zimbabwe ended abruptly after the delegation was bundled out of the country.

Cosatu later resolved to block the Beitbridge border post in retaliation.

Craven said that the blockade would be supported by other regional trade unions. A date for the blockade has not yet been set.

The visit by Cosatu last year later resulted in a major dispute within the ruling

alliance in South Africa which is led by the African National Congress.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has over the past four years been promoting his much criticised quiet diplomacy.