Dumisani Muleya/Gift Phiri
POLITICAL and civic organisations this week rounded on government for illegally deporting Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leaders who were on a fact-finding mission
The South African Communist Party (SACP), which is part of South Africa’s governing tripartite alliance with the ANC and Cosatu, said it was “outraged and angered by the rounding up and expulsion of a Cosatu delegation” by government.
“We call on our government to strongly condemn this action. This act is ultimate proof that the Mugabe regime is essentially dictatorial and undemocratic,” it said.
The SACP, which last year conducted a fact-finding mission and compiled a damning report on Zimbabwe, said it was time for the region to tackle the Zimbabwe situation head-on.
“South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region should send a clear and unequivocal message to the Zimbabwean government that there is no other route to solve the impasse other than through genuine negotiations to agree on institu-tional arrangements, constitutional amendments and other modalities required before acceptable elections can take place,” it said.
The SACP said South Africa must insist that Zimbabwe’s government complies with the Sadc principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the deportation of Cosatu leaders, who have threatened a serious backlash, was “outrageous”.
“The MDC is shocked and dismayed at the decision by government to deport the Cosatu delegation,” MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said. “Government’s conduct further confirms that Zimbabwe is a tyrannical state.”
The MDC, whose leaders met with South African President Thabo Mbeki for talks on the current crisis on Monday, said President Mugabe was trying to hide his leadership and policy failures.
“If the government believes that by blocking a Cosatu fact-finding mission it can hide its criminal failings on governance and violent political excesses from SA and the broader region, it is mistaken,” Nyathi said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said government should “avoid making hasty and dangerous decisions that might in the long run be diplomatic blunders which will further isolate the country”. The “inhuman manner” of the deportation showed government’s “callousness”, it said.
Government claimed it deported Cosatu leaders because they were “British fronts” bent on undermining Zimbabwe’s “sovereignty and gains of a hard-won independence”.
In this solo posturing it received consoling support from the fast dying Pan-Africanist Congress which said Cosatu and South Africa had become a springboard for imperialist onslaughts on the continent.
The South African government said on Wednesday it found the outcome of the Cosatu visit “regrettable”. It said it would consult with the Zimbabwean authorites and Cosatu to avoid a recurrence.
Responding to Zimbabwe state media’s description of the delegation as “dubious individuals”, Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said again that it was “regrettable”.