- Last Updated on 25 March 2013
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DURBAN - THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Secretary General, Zwelinzima Vavi has called on Zimbabwe's southern neighbour and facilitating country in the Global Political Agreement (GPA), South Africa and her BRICS allies to stand up for Zimbabweans to freely choose their leaders and against political persecution in the country.
Vavi who leads a trade union aligned and powerful in the triple alliance backing the ruling African National Congress (ANC) called on the South African people to help the people of Swaziland. Zimbabwe has seen a single leader and a regime perceived as undemocratic since attaining its independence in 1980, while Swaziland harbours Africa's last absolute monarchy.
"The crisis facing the sister peoples of Swaziland and Zimbabwe requires that, with South Africa leading, BRICs must stand up and demandan end to the persecution and banning of trade union activities, and the rights of the people to freely choose their own leaders in these countries.
"We hope that the process towards elections in Zimbabwe will be conducive, whilst we stand firmly in demanding that TUCOSWA in Swaziland be unbanned and workers should have right to organise and bargain freely. €
Zimbabwe heads for watershed elections after a successful constitutional referendum largely hailed by SADC as credible, which adopted a new constitution patched together over four difficult years and presided over by the Inclusive Government (IG). The Prime Minister and MDC-T leader, Rt. Hon. Morgan Tsvangirai, who is President Robert Mugabe's nemesis, is being forced to play second fiddle through what has been viewed as abuse of state institutions such as the judiciary and the police force.
There has been a resurgent and sustained crackdown on independent voices through police raids on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the Premier's Office, and massive arrests of the staffers of the raided institutions and an internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.
South Africa which is the continent's biggest economy was hosting the BRICS Trade Union Forum from March 23 to 25 in the coastal town of Durban. The BRICS apart from the host include four other emerging global economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Vavi's comments may signify an international disapproval of the political environment in Zimbabwe ahead of the election which if it is free and fair, is seen as a potential solution to the country's challenges which have stretched over a decade now.
However his comments come as another BRICS ally Russia is launching a crackdown on NGOs on similar reasons as those being used by the authorities in Zimbabwe. Both governments accuse NGOs, which are whistle-blowers on human rights violations of being foreign funded. The Russian government and a section of the former guerrilla clique now in control of the state in Zimbabwe share ideological and intelligence links, and both governments are accused of ruthlessly cracking down on perceived opponents.