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Cosatu not welcome: Mangwana
The Herald
February 02, 2005

http://www.herald.co.zw/index.php?id=40303&pubdate=2005-02-02

THE planned "fact-finding" mission to Zimbabwe by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) will not be tolerated, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Paul Mangwana, said yesterday.

The minister said the delegation was supposed to seek clearance with the Zimbabwean authorities through the South African Labour Minister before proceeding to Zimbabwe.

"Until they comply with that requirement, which we have already communicated to them, their coming is not welcome," said Cde Mangwana.

Cde Mangwana said the fact that Cosatu had indicated that this time around its delegation would hold talks with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) only, unlike in their initial visit last year, was neither here nor there as they still had to follow procedure.

"They should approach their labour minister who will, in turn, write to us on their behalf and we will then make arrangements from there and not to bulldoze their way as what they are trying to do."

Cde Mangwana said Zimbabwe and South Africa still enjoyed good relations.

ZCTU president Mr Lovemore Matombo said they were still expecting a Cosatu delegation which, he said, was scheduled to jet into the country aboard a South African Airways afternoon flight today.

"We are still preparing their itinerary and we will complete it by tomorrow morning," said Mr Matombo yesterday.

The ZCTU had indicated that in light of the Governmentís stance on the delegation, they would not insist on them meeting with Government and other civic society officials, but restrict the activities to holding discussions with the ZCTU solely.

The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) said the Cosatu visit was unacceptable because the purpose behind it was tantamount to interference in the political affairs of Zimbabwe.

In a statement, ZFTU secretary for information and publicity Cde Kennias Shamuyarira said the visit by Cosatu was aimed at tarnishing the image of the country.

Cde Shamuyarira said if the South African labour body was genuinely concerned about the plight of Zimbabwean workers, it should have consulted all relevant labour bodies in the country instead of holding talks with the ZCTU alone.

He said Cosatuís actions were meant to divide the countryís labour force along political lines and an attempt to meddle in the countryís internal politics.

South Africa Minister of Labour Mr Membathisi Mdladlana has since condemned the planned visit by Cosatu, saying the visit could harm the good relations between the two countries.

Briefing journalists in Victoria Falls on Monday where he met Cde Mangwana, Mr Mdladlana said it should be clear to Cosatu that Zimbabwe was not a province of South Africa and that Zimbabwe was a sovereign country.

He warned Cosatu not to visit Zimbabwe without the required clearance, saying when he arrived in Victoria Falls, like all passengers aboard the plane, he was instructed to fill entry forms stating the purpose of his visit.

Government has warned Cosatu members before, who have threatened to bulldoze their way into the country to protest against alleged human rights violations, that they would face the full wrath of the law.

Home Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi has already said Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and, therefore, foreigners could not come and do as they pleased in the country without the consent of the relevant authorities.

"Zimbabwe is not a banana republic. We are a sovereign nation. They should not come here to break the laws of this country. The laws of this country will apply to them if they come," he said shortly after Cosatu indicated that they would come to Zimbabwe even if the Government forbade them.

Last October, a 13-member Cosatu delegation was deported from Zimbabwe after it sneaked into the country without proper clearance to meet groups believed to be working with the British-backed opposition MDC to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

After their deportation, the Cosatu members threatened to block the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa at Beitbridge as part of efforts to taint the image of Zimbabwe, whose economy is on a revival path.

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