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South African Communist Delegation Travels to Zimbabwe

South Africa's small but influential Communist Party has sent a delegation to Zimbabwe to meet political, social and economic leaders. The South African Communist Party has been a vocal critic of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, particularly those against labor leaders.

Jeremy Cronin, secretary general of the South African Communist Party leads the party's first official visit to Zimbabwe. He has met with members of the ruling Zanu PF party, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, trade unions and other civic organizations.

The membership of Zimbabwe's trade unions has been decimated in recent years as hundreds of thousands of workers, particularly farm workers, have lost their jobs in the country's ongoing economic crisis.

South Africa's communist party, which is part of the country's ruling alliance, has been a consistent critic of human rights abuses by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

Over the past four years, the South African communists have often displeased South Africa's ruling African National Congress in its criticism of Mr. Mugabe in neighboring Zimbabwe.

The ANC government's policy on Zimbabwe has been what it describes as quiet diplomacy, opposing overt criticism of Mr. Mugabe and his policies and standing behind him diplomatically in international forums, such as the Commonwealth, a grouping of mostly British former colonies.

While criticizing Mr. Mugabe for human rights abuses, the South African communist party is also critical of Zimbabwe's opposition party, the MDC, for failing to offer a coherent political program.

The MDC itself says it has spent the last six months consulting with its followers and writing policy documents. The package of MDC program is to be presented to the members at the end of this month.