Cosatu’s border shutdown flops Confederation of South African Trade Unions

Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
A bid to block Zimbabwe and South Africa’s border by the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) yesterday hit a brick wall after their request to protest inside the border area was turned down by security authorities from both countries.

It is understood that the group had planned to protest and bring business to a halt at Sadc’s busiest inland port of entry.

The ill-fated demo was meant to be held under the theme; “Stop abduction, detention and harassment of political activists”.

Security officials from both countries remained on high alert yesterday.

“The border post is not a social place. We don’t expect people to do as they please,”said a security source from South Africa.

The trade union members, some of its handlers and some Zimbabwean elements based in that country were forced to hold their “event” on a road leading to South African border authorities’ residence opposite the Ultra City garage.

A total of 76 people who were bused in from Polokwane in two Iveco minibuses were seen picketing to save face with a few banners and red T-shirts.

They were being monitored closely by the police who warned them against blocking the border post or the N1 high way, which connects South Africa with the rest of Sadc.

When our news crew arrived on the South African side of the border, there was heavy presence of security and it was business as usual.

Some of the disappointed demonstrators ended up sight seeing, taking turns to take pictures on the Alfred Beit Bridge.

Mr Ngqabutho Mabhena of the of the Zimbabwe Communist party and Cosatu’s provincial chairperson Mr Essop Mokgonyana addressed the small crowd, where they said they were in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) ongoing events in Zimbabwe.

Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Immigration authorities from both countries said it was business as usual.

The assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge (Zimbabwe) Mr Nqobile Ncube said; “We are closely liaising with our counterparts as relates to unhindered movement between the two ports. All is in order”.

Pressure groups have over the years tried in vain to block the Zimbabwe/ South Africa border.

In April last year, the International Cross Border Traders’ Association (ICTA) failed to block the border after the organisers of the event developed cold feet at the eleventh hour.

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