Fedusa to confront Mbeki over Zimbabwe
A South African trade union leader said she would urge President Thabo Mbeki to break his silence on Zimbabwe on Friday after giving him a film exposing rights abuses in the neighbouring state.
“I am meeting the president tomorrow [Friday],” Mary Malete, leader of the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) told Agence France-Presse on Thursday.
Malete said she would try to give Mbeki a copy of a film showing leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) being beaten and arrested by police when they tried to launch an anti-government march on September 13.
The government nipped the protest in the bud by evoking a tough law that bars “unauthorised” marches.
Lawyers for the ZCTU members said secretary general Wellington Chibebe had a fractured arm while 29 others sustained bruises and cuts after being assaulted in police custody.
The ZCTU had hoped to rope in thousands to denounce fuel and food shortages, four-digit inflation and 80% unemployment—which critics blame on economic mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe’s government.
Malete said she would urge South Africa’s Mbeki—who has been roundly attacked over his so-called “quiet diplomacy” towards Zimbabwe—to speak out against Mugabe, who is seen by critics as a liberator turned oppressor.
“The film is shocking,” she said.
“We [South Africans] are complaining about the resources not being enough for us. What about the thousands of people coming in from Zimbabwe with whom we have to share the meagre resources?”
South African Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also blasted Mbeki over his Zimbabwe policy, saying transgressions should be condemned in Zimbabwe like they were in apartheid South Africa.
Mbeki, meanwhile, has consistently maintained that Zimbabweans alone can resolve the country’s economic and political crises.
Zimbabwe is in its seventh year of economic hardship with a four-digit inflation, spiralling unemployment and a huge deficit of food and essential goods, partly blamed on the Southern African country’s controversial land reforms.
At least three million Zimbabweans are thought to have have migrated to neighbouring countries, especially continental powerhouse South Africa, as well as Europe and the United States in search for jobs.
Mugabe, who has steered the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1980, has also been accused by critics of stifling democracy and human rights.
He defended the use of violence against the ZCTU leaders in September, saying “police were right in dealing sternly”.
ZCTU acting secretary general Japhet Moyo said he hoped Mbeki would finally see the light when he was handed video evidence.
“The fact is that people were brutally beaten and those pictures expose the brutality of the Zimbabwean government,” he said in Harare.
“Mbeki will now open his eyes to what we’ve always been telling him: that our government is so brutal,” he said. “The camera does not lie.”—Sapa-AFP