South Africa under pressure over Mugabe

South Africa's national labour body is heaping pressure on its government to request the resignation of neighbouring Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe...

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is positioning itself to aggressively push SA President Thabo Mbeki to force Zimbabwe's Mugabe to call for an interim government as a precursor for the ushering in of a new political dispensation.

The move by Cosatu, a key ally of the Mbeki’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), was unanimously agreed at a meeting convened in Johannesburg to actively support calls by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and other stakeholders: "... for an interim government in Zimbabwe and the drafting of a new constitution on the basis of which fresh elections should be conducted".

Cosatu is already mobilising its Northern Province affiliates to organise mass demonstrations around the Beitbridge area to highlight the plight of the Zimbabwean people.

The northern province lies just after the Limpopo River which borders Zimbabwe and South Africa, its biggest trading partner.

One Cosatu official said the dates for the demonstrations there are yet to be fixed as "we are waiting for some issues to be addressed".

The demonstrations are set to spill-over into Zimbabwe.

Sources said Cosatu's leadership resolved to dispatch an undercover fact-finding mission into Zimbabwe soon, comprising all its affiliates, before pushing Mbeki to deal with Zimbabwe's crisis and force a re-run of Zimbabwe's 2002 presidential election which was controversially won by Mugabe.

Cosatu officials were deported twice from Zimbabwe last year.

The South African labour union’s new initiative, sources said, is aimed at put pressure on both Mugabe and Mbeki to resolve the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

Efforts to break the impasse failed to bear fruit when  Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party rejected talks with the Movement for Democratic Change when Mugabe demanded that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai drops his court challenge of the 2002 polls.

Tsvangirai however refused to bow to Mugabe's demands arguing that the negotiated political settlement process should have forged ahead without any pre-conditions.

Almost two years after the talks stalled, Zimbabwe’s crisis continues to worsen with inflation hovering around 1,000 per cent.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai has scoffed at reports suggesting United Nations Secretary General, Koffi Annan, is making frantic efforts for Mugabe and Tsvangirai to form a coalition government comprising of Zanu PF and MDC officials.

Annan is reportedly making this initiative as his ‘last hoorah’ before he retires at the end of this year.

Tsvangirai says what Zimbabwe needs today is a totally new administration tasked with taking the troubled country out of its current quagmire.