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Cosatu reveals Zim protest plans

Workers will picket overnight at Zimbabwe border posts the day before elections take place in that country, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday.

The protests on March 30 will be the culmination of other blockades and demonstrations throughout March at the Beit Bridge border post and at the Zimbabwe high commission in Pretoria.

Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said the protests signify how little faith workers in Zimbabwe and South Africa have in the elections, set to take place on March 31.

”Clearly we can see what will happen beyond March 31; the winner will be the one with the odds skewed in his favour,” Vavi said at a press conference in Johannesburg.

He said Cosatu expects to have to continue to fight for workers’ rights after the elections, and are ”bracing ourselves for further actions”.

Cosatu will not call for economic sanctions against the country unless requested to do so by the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions, Vavi said.

”We are not leading the struggle, we are supporting the Zimbabwean workers. The main struggle must happen in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Protests at the Zimbabwe high commission will take place on March 9 and 16, with a mass march to the commission on March 23, Vavi said.

The border blockades will occur on March 11 and 18, with another mass march and night vigil on March 30.

He said the regional branches are in the process of submitting applications to the police and local authorities for permission to demonstrate.

Vavi said this sort of border mass action is neither abnormal nor illegal. He will be ”very worried” if permissions are not granted, he said.

”We would have to ask, what is special with Zimbabwe?”

Asked what Cosatu hopes to achieve with its actions this month, Vavi said: ”A struggle is not an event. It is a process that may, in time, produce a result.

”We were asked the same question when we were struggling against apartheid, but we persisted.”

The trade union federation also revealed the programme for its 20th anniversary conference, which will take place from March 5 to 7 in Midrand.

Speakers include Deputy President Jacob Zuma, Minister of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana and critics of Cosatu from left and right of the political spectrum, Vavi said.

”We are not just inviting good friends who agree with us.”

He said the conference aims to spark critical thinking about the performance of Cosatu over the past 10 years, and its future direction. — Sapa

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