22 March 2002

Cosatu wants facts from observers

The Congress of SA Trade Unions on Thursday demanded of the various observer missions that monitored the recent presidential elections in Zimbabwe that they produce facts to support the conclusions drawn in their reports. The ANC ally said none of the conflicting reports on the election provided a convincing argument to back their conclusions. "In order to convince Cosatu and the South African population at large that the SA Observer Mission and other missions did not go to Zimbabwe with preconceived and fixed positions to legitimise or to condemn the election results, the respective missions are challenged to give us concrete facts and scientific evidence to back up their arguments," the trade union federation said in a statement. "Cosatu believes that the presence of observers did contribute to the improving of the environment and ensuring restraint," the statement said.

Cosatu has argued that it would be difficult to hold free and fair elections in Zimbabwe taking into account the political environment since the 2000 parliamentary elections. "Cosatu consistently called for decisive interventions by the international community, in particular SADC, to ensure a free and fair election. The fact that most of the international community chose to ignore our pleas and act only on the eve of the election made it too late to reverse the accumulated damage," the labour organisation said. "On the face of it, there is compelling evidence that the electoral process was fraught with irregularities, violence and intimidation, a biased media, and in some respects bias on the part of the police in some parts of the country. The legislative framework did not allow for a level playing field. The uncertainty created by court ruling, the defiance of the ruling and the last minute introduction of regulations resulted in massive confusion and inadequate preparations by the electoral authorities."

Already heavily involved in the pro-democracy struggle in Swaziland, Cosatu also undertook to engage itself in Zimbabwe. For that reason the organisation said it fully backed a three-day general strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions "in support of their fight for basic trade union and human rights". Cosatu deplored the action of police "who forced their way into a private meeting of the ZCTU Executive Council on 14 March, in contravention of the International Labour Organisation's Convention 87 which gives workers' organisation the right to organise freely without interference." The federation condemned the harassment of workers by government militias and the police, "which the ZCTU say has intensified since the 9-11 March election. Cosatu also is concerned at the threat by the Zimbabwe government to deregister the ZCTU and its proposed 'anti-terrorist' law, which would make socio-economic, and political strikes illegal". (ZWNews / News24, SA)

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