- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Zimbabweans living in South Africa call for free and fair elections
- Date: 8th March 2008
- Summary: (W3) PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (MARCH 8, 2008) (REUTERS) PROTESTERS FROM ZIMBABWE AND VARIOUS TRADE UNIONS MARCHING TO THE SWAZILAND AND ZIMBABWE EMBASSIES PROTESTER HOLDING POSTER WHICH READS: 'WARNING AU (AFRICAN UNION) PLEASE ATTEND TO ZIM'S CRISIS'/ MORE OF PROTEST MAN HOLDING BANNER WHICH READS: 'WARNING AU (AFRICAN UNION) ZIM AFTER RIGGED ELECTIONS = DISASTER' / ANOTHER MAN HOLDING POSTER WHICH READS: 'NO FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS, NO ZIMBABWE' VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS MARCHING AND HOLDING POSTERS POLICE WATCHING THE DEMONSTRATORS PROTESTERS MARCHING TO THE ZIMBABWEAN EMBASSY PROTESTER WITH BANNER READING: 'ZIMBABWE A SINKING TITANIC' SOUNDBITE (English) VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE ZIMBABWEAN CIVIC SOCIETY, SOX SHITOHWERO, SAYING: "And I want to warn SADEC, AU (the African Union), Zimbabwe and South Africa indeed that should the elections be rigged in Zimbabwe, do not be surprised to see the Kenya era erupting in Zimbabwe." PROTESTERS APPLAUDING SOUNDBITE (English) SOUTH AFRICA COMMUNIST PARTY (SACP), SOLLY MAPAILA, SPOKESPERSON SAYING: "We want the world to know that Mugabe is actually an evil dictator oppressing his own people in the name of fighting against imperialism. He will never fool us. If Mugabe is serious about freedom, he must give basic freedom and rights to his own people in Zimbabwe." PROTESTERS DANCING AND SINGING OUTSIDE THE ZIMBABWEAN EMBASSY
- Embargoed: 23rd March 2008 12:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVAB7D55BO87PS4MNG6JAJGH9SZZ
- Story Text: Hundreds of Zimbabweans living in South Africa hold a protest outside the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria to demand free and fair elections in their home country.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans living in South Africa marched to the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria on Friday (March 8) as part of a protest campaign to push for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe on March 29.
The Zimbabweans, who were joined by members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), chanted and held posters reading: 'Warning: AU Please attend to Zim's crisis' and 'No free and fair elections, no Zimbabwe.' Sox Shitohwero, vice chairman of the Zimbabwean Civic Society, told those gathered outside the Zimbabwe embassy that trouble similar to that flaring in Kenya could also erupt in Zimbabwe if the Zimbabwe elections are not free and fair.
The COSATU union said it had noted that in recent weeks the political crisis has reached new levels. The union said in a statement that it has now become the norm for police to raid the offices of opposition political activists, particularly the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to seize files and video and to harass and threaten staff.
"We want the world to know that (Zimbabwean President Robert) Mugabe is actually an evil dictator oppressing his own people in the name of fighting against imperialism. He will never fool us," said Solly Mapaila, a leader of the South Africa Communist Party (SACP).
The March 29 election presents Mugabe with one of the biggest challenges to his rule since taking office in 1980.
Millions of Zimbabweans hoping for an end to a decade-long economic crisis are due to vote in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections described by Mugabe and his opponents as a landmark poll in the post-independence period.
Protesters also marched to the Swaziland Embassy in Pretoria calling for a democratic constitution. According to COSATU, the Swaziland monarchy continues to violate human rights, and it has appealed to the international community to assist and play a role in in bringing democratic change in that country.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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