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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • COSATU condemns MDC arrests
    Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
    March 12, 2007

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    The Congress of South African Trade Unions deplores the fatal shooting by Zimbabwe riot police of a supporter of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at a prayer rally in Harare's Highfield township on Sunday 11 March.

    COSATU also strongly condemns the arrest of Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leaders of the two factions of the MDC, and several of their senior officials, and of Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly. Riot police reportedly snatched them from their cars on their way to address the rally to oppose President Robert Mugabe's plans to extend presidential elections and protest against continued harassment of opposition leaders.

    We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested, and echo the view of the secretary general of the Mutambara-led faction, Professor Welshman Ncube, that "this action by the police typifies the rogue nature of the regime and the complete disregard for the rule of law and respect for civil liberties."

    We welcome his statement that "the decision to arrest our leaders will only serve to strengthen our resolve in the demand for a new democratic dispensation. We will not be deterred by Zanu PF machinations of stripping the people of their inalienable rights."

    COSATU welcomes the unity displayed by the two MDC factions on Sunday, who, for the first time, appeared in a public event together, and hopes that this heralds the emergence of the broadest possible mass movement in support of democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe.

    COSATU has already pledged solidarity action in South Africa in support of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, who plan a general strike on 3-4 April, to protest against 'slavery wages', against a backdrop of an economic catastrophe and ever more vicious attacks on human rights. We warn the Mugabe government not to try to repeat the kind of pre-emptive arrests used yesterday.

    While COSATU recognises the heroic role played by the Zimbabwe government and people in the liberation of South Africa, and President Mugabe's willingness to confront the hypocrisy and aggression of the US government, that does not mean that the federation will close its eyes when his government tramples on workers' and human rights.

    Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
    Congress of South African Trade Unions

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