Monday, April 02, 2007

SAfrican unions vow to press Mbeki about Mugabe

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — The country's largest labor federation, which has lambasted Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for "attacks on democracy and human rights," says it will keep up pressure on Zimbabwe, in contrast to the quiet diplomacy advocated by the South African president.

President Thabo Mbeki, leader of the African National Congress, said Saturday that he was confident new mediation could help resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe, on South Africa's northern border.

But after meeting with Mbeki in Cape Town, the general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions said it would go ahead with demonstrations set for this week.

"We are proceeding with the protests. We are not going to let go because there is a promise of dialogue," said Zwelinzima Vavi, whose group is a member of the ruling alliance with the ANC.

"We're having demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday, we're having marches in Johannesburg and we'll be marching to the Zimbabwean high commissioner's office."

Vavi said the labor federation's responsibility was to make sure the unions exerted pressure to force the parties involved to engage in serious negotiations for a solution to the crisis. He said the group hoped for a breakthrough.

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