The powerful National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has requested the African Union to intervene in Zimbabwe’s on-going political crisis, which has been exacerbated by a struggling economy and coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
NUMSA, which held protests outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Wednesday, accused the authorities in Harare of randomly arresting activists and opposition politicians during a crackdown that has seen the violation of human rights in the neighbouring country.
NUMSA Western Cape provincial secretary Vuyo Lufele said the union stood with the people of Zimbabwe in calling for freedom of speech and association in that country.
According to Lufele, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa should accept the fact that there are other political parties in the country who hold different views should be accommodated.
He called on the AU to urge Mnangagwa “to free all political prisoners arrested during the current political impasse.”
In addition, Mnangagwa should be investigated for violating Zimbabweans’ human rights in terms of international law, Lufele urged the AU during the protests.
On its part, the South African government has in the past month sent two separate delegations to Harare in order to assist in the crisis between the government and the opposition.
However, both times the South African delegations did not publicly inform this nation of the outcome of their talks with Mnangagwa – while at the same time they had failed to meet with that country’s opposition.
The protesters handed over a petition to a Zimbabwean Embassy administrator and finance officer, and urged him to hand it over to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
NUMSA said it had lost confidence in Mnangagwa, who ousted the late former President Robert Mugabe in 2017.
NUMSA president Andrew Phiri said despite promises that he would execute what late former President failed, Mnangagwa was ten times worse than his predecessor.
“People of Zimbabwe with the aid of the British they removed Mugabe from the throne … And we were all hoping that things will be different , we were all hoping that the mandate that they claimed Mugabe was not executing he (Mnangagwa) was going to execute.
“But Mnangagwa became worse than Mugabe. He became 10 times worse than Mugabe … Hence we are here today. He (Mnangagwa) eroded everything, human rights for Zimbabweans and as NUMSA, as SAFTU, as Socialist Revolutionary Party we cannot fold our arms and pretend as if nothing is happening to the people of Zimbabwe,” said Phiri.
Mnangagwa insists there is no crisis in his country.