SOUTH Africa’s largest trade union, the Congress of South African Trade (COSATU) has reportedly thrown its weight behind a planned march by Zimbabweans living in that country on February 1, against the Zanu PF led government.
The march will be held in Pretoria as a follow up to the countrywide fatal protests held in the country last week following a 150 percent hike in fuel prices announced by the government.
In an interview with CITE from his base in Johannesburg, Chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF), Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda confirmed COSATU would use its influence to support the Zimbabwean cause.
He said a lot of meetings had taken place in South Africa since the protests started, as Zimbabweans in the diaspora were worried about the escalating violence.
“The bulk of meetings and the marches that have taken place in South Africa were apparently organised by ordinary people with no affiliation to any political party or grouping. A lot of meetings are actually taking place and I’m attending most. We are basically discussing mass action that will be supported by COSATU around February 1 to stand with people of Zimbabwe,” Dr Sibanda confirmed.
“Brothers and sisters in the diaspora are very unhappy about the situation in Zimbabwe and want action and see this government moved. The march coming on February 1 has now received more attention as a lot of civic society organisations and COSATU have come in and the meetings would be at COSATU house.”
The ADF chair said diasporans were worried about the reported killings and the subsequent internet blackout which had affected communication between them and their families.
“Resultantly, there’s a lot of solidarity activities taking place seen by the march at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria. There was another group at the Johannesburg consulate and another in Cape Town,” Dr Sibanda said.
He said they were concerned about the security and safety issues in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo as they infringed on people’s rights.
“We are saying we cannot have a president (in Zimbabwe) who calls himself constitutional yet has an illegal background, having people butchered and at the same time was in charge of Gukurahundi.
“People are now abducted, reportedly killed and the army has been released into the streets doing policing work, which makes Zimbabwe into a military state rather than a constitutional state. We don’t even need a police state but a democratic state where people’s rights are fully respected,” he noted.
Dr Sibanda also condemned the use of live ammunition by the security forces..
“Brute force should not be used but hooligans should be arrested and face the law rather than the army becoming a law unto itself. People that looted and those that destroyed property must be arrested and sent to court. We can’t have people reportedly killed by the army and police, which are institutions supposed to protect them, that’s unacceptable,” Dr Sibanda highlighted.
Human rights activists have put the number of civilians killed during the protests at 12, including a police officer while about 800 people have been arrested.