Vavi lashes at west, defends Hamas
By Hassan Isilow
JOHANESBURG: Zwelinzima Vavi secretary general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has lashed out at western countries that use the war on terror to silence and dominate developing countries particularly those in the Middle East and Africa.
‘‘wars of colonial expansion & racist domination are being wagged in the name of fighting terrorism, which represents a vicious attack on the dignity of not only Palestinians but of all humanity, particularly those of us who suffered under colonialism and apartheid in South Africa’’ the trade unionist said last week while addressing a Pro-Palestinian conference organised by the Coalition to free Palestine (CPF) held in Lenasia South of Johannesburg.
Vavi said it was wrong for the west to label the Palestinian armed resistance group Hamas as a terrorist organisation. ‘‘ In March 1960 when 69 people were shot in sharpville, comrade Nelson Mandela said there comes a time in any history of a nation where people choose to either submit or to fight. So why should the Palestinians not have a right to fight (resist) against the Israeli occupation, when actually the Israelis forcefully took their land’’ he questioned, amidst a thunderous applaud from the crowd.
He said the people of Palestine should be accorded their right to resist occupation just like South Africans did by forming the military wing of the ANC called Umkonto We-sizwe which resisted apartheid in the 70’s. ‘‘We too in South Africa including the world’s greatest political icon Nelson Mandela were once called terrorists. I think this should make Hamas proud because those who called Mandela a terrorist are now equally calling them terrorists because they are resisting against occupation’’
Vavi also called upon South Africans to unite behind the intensification of a global boycott, disinvestment and sanctions targeting everything from Israel. He said this should include identifying all Israeli targets and all people who collaborate with them globally.
The trade unionist also revealed that some members of the Coalition to free Palestine (CPF) had received death threats from Zionist groups operating in South Africa. ‘‘We are sending only one message to those bloody racists, you dare touch one of us, then you will understand that South Africa belongs to all of us’’ he also warned
He warned South African citizens including Muslims who were working as informers of different Zionist organisations ‘‘to those of you who may be in this rally but are agents of the Zionists we say shame upon you.’’
vavi called for a global intensification of protest marches against representatives of Israel and their allies. ‘‘We are only in our 18th year of democracy which we couldn’t have achieved if the international community had not supported us, so my call is that the South African Government should lead in supporting the oppressed people of Palestine. First we should expel the Israeli ambassador from Pretoria’’
Over 800 people attended the rally notable among them were former anti-apartheid stalwarts, Reverend Frank Chikane and Dr. Don Matera. Several members of the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA) as well as members of the broader civil society movement addressed the crowd.