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South African Trade Union Group Wants Zimbabwe Polls Postponed

In Pretoria today, a top official of the Congress of South African Trade Unions said Zimbabwe’s elections should be postponed. COSATU’s deputy president, Joe Nkosi, is quoted as saying the vote will not be free and fair under current election laws. Mr. Nkosi made the remark during a protest outside the Zimbabwe High Commission. According to the South Africa Press Agency, he also said, “COSATU wants the Zimbabwean people to be liberated from oppression just as their South African counterparts are.”

The trade union group plans to continue its protests against the government of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe until the March 31st elections. The demonstrations will reportedly end with a vigil on Beit Bridge, which connects the two countries.

COSATU spokesman Patrick Craven told English to Africa reporter William Eagle that his group and its union allies in Zimbabwe do not believe there is enough time to put into place measures that would ensure fair elections. Among those measures are updating voters rolls, putting into place independent elections authorities, and providing enough time for observers to have a proper investigation into all the conditions surrounding the polls. He also says laws such as the Public Order and Security Act do not allow for the freedom of movement, assembly, or criticism needed during parliamentary campaigns.