US ‘deal of the century’ legitimises Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people says COSATU

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Demonstration in South Africa in support of the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ campaign against the Israeli state

THE CONGRESS of South African Trade Unions is ‘perturbed’ by the US’s Middle East Peace Plan.

In a statement issued by COSATU national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla the union said:

‘This deal is forcing Palestinians to buy a concealed item that is locked up in a box and then put their trust in the country that has been the source of their suffering, as a proud sponsor of Zionism for decades.

‘Apartheid is ugly and must never be legitimised in any way, it must be called by its real name.

‘Since 1967, the Palestinian situation has gotten worse with an increase in the repression of Palestinians, an increase in illegal settler communities, extension of land grabs and segregation policies; as well as mass killing of unarmed civilians that include children and women.

‘This is happening in full view of the UN and the entire world. There are no repercussions for Israel and the US and they indulge in their absurd actions against Palestinians with impunity.

‘The US has the audacity to call this Middle East Peace Plan “the deal of the century”, which is ridiculous when you consider that they are only proposing to buy Palestine with 28 billion dollars.

‘What this seeks to do is to kill the Palestinian peoples struggle to the point of no return.

‘It will not only condone the killing of innocent and unarmed civilians, grabbing of Palestinian land and homes but also deny millions of Palestinian refugees the right of return.

‘It has the potential to cement and legitimise the crimes already perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

‘This Israel government action violates UN declarations, as well as international law, but this seems lost to the architects of this silly plan. This one-sided, ill-fated “Peace-Plan” is an insult to all the Palestinian martyrs who paid the ultimate price in defence of their land.

‘We urge the people of the Middle East not to entertain this deal but to see it for what it is; an attempt to strip the Palestinian people of their dignity forever.

‘Entertaining this deal or accepting it would be tantamount to selling out their brothers and sisters in Palestine.

‘In this regard, we call on them to add their weight to the growing movement that supports the struggle of Palestinians, which includes the Jewish people inside the occupied territories, who are not in agreement with the atrocities their state has committed in their name.

‘We urge them to demand the immediate end to the illegal settlements and killings in violation of international law.

‘We also extend the call to our brothers and sisters in this continent to join us in the call for remedial action to be taken against Israel and its buddy the US, for warmongering and their role in perpetuating these hate crimes.

‘We look to the South African Government to lead on this question, particularly since South Africa is uniquely placed as the one country that survived apartheid through international assistance.

‘COSATU rejects this plot and we remain resolute in support of the Palestinian cause and we will never be silenced on this issue.

‘We remain strong in our support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and all other efforts made in support of the cause.

‘COSATU and its affiliates have resolved to embark on a continuous picket campaign at the embassy and consulates of the US until the US stops its offensive against the Palestinians.’

Meanwhile, the clothing and textile industry is one of many in South Africa that has suffered major job and revenue losses due to cheap imports.

Job retention and the importance of supporting the local clothing industry are some of the issues being discussed at the South African and Clothing Textile Workers Union’s (SACTWU) Congress currently underway in Cape Town.

During his recent State-of-the-Nation-Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the importance of supporting the textile industry by buying locally produced garments.

Over 230 members of the union are attending the Congress which will also see a new leadership being elected to lead the union for the next three years.

SACTWU welcomed Ramaphosa’s call to buy local products, and also stressed that ‘misconceptions about the quality and price of locally made clothes and textiles should come to an end.’

Union General Secretary Andrè Kriel said the country produces garments of a global standard that anyone can buy with pride.

  • The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) on Saturday said it would continue to support President Cyril Ramaphosa – but only if he compliments its work and implements the promises the African National Congress (ANC) made in its elections manifesto and resolutions of its 2017 conference.

NEHAWU, which is the biggest public service union in the country, held a national policy conference that ended on Saturday to determine, among other issues, its posture towards the president and the sixth administration in government.

The honeymoon phase between Ramaphosa and the workers who supported his rise to power appears to be over with NEHAWU spelling out the conditions of its support.

It was the first organisation to back Ramaphosa’s campaign to become ANC president in 2017. However, the union said should the president deviate from their expectations, they will not hesitate to confront him.

‘We’ve decided that if the president compliments our work and does everything that was captured in the ANC elections manifesto and the Nasrec resolutions, then we will work with him but should he deviate from those resolutions and manifesto, we will confront him,’ NEHAWU spokesperson Khaya Xaba said.

The union said it would also be assessing its role in the state.

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe told delegates at the conference this week that trade unions in the public service were custodians of the state and must work with government to ensure the aggressive implementation of set targets meant to improve the economy, among other responsibilities.

  • The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has accused Zimbabwe of violating the rights of workers following a brutal army crackdown that followed the January protests against a steep increase in the price of fuel.

Several trade union leaders have been arrested since then and charged for allegedly plotting to topple President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The ILO has demanded that the government accepts its Team of Inquiry to assess the current situation following the reports of the crackdown against trade unionists in Zimbabwe.

The measures are contained in a draft 38-page dossier of the ILO committee of complaints released at the just-ended conference in Geneva. The 108th session of the ILO ran from June 10 to 21.

The document outlined conclusions on Zimbabwean cases it was handling, and also contains recommendations for other countries that are infamous for abuse of workers. These include Iraq, Turkey, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Libya and Ethiopia.

ILO’s rebuke coincided with the arrest of Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure last Friday.

Zimbabwe was placed on the ILO agenda after the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) wrote to the body raising a red flag on abuse of workers’ rights.

Through its secretary-general Japhet Moyo, the ZCTU highlighted issues such as the January army killings and arrests of several trade unionists. It said:

‘The committee noted concern regarding the government’s failure to implement specific elements of the recommendations of the 2009 Commission of Inquiry.

‘The committee noted persisting failure issues of compliance with the convention including allegations of violations of the rights of the freedom of assembly of workers’ organisations,’ reads part of the dossier.

‘Taking into account the discussion, the committee called upon the government to: refrain from the arrest, detention, or harassment of trade union members conducting lawful trade union activities … ensure that the allegations of violence against trade union members are investigated, and where appropriate, impose dissuasive sanctions.’

However, Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza, who attended the Geneva conference, said Zimbabwe would not allow the ILO to send investigators to Zimbabwe because the government believed it was making good progress in its efforts to introduce a number of reforms.