The limits of transnational solidarity: the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the Swaziland and Zimbabwean crises

Geoffrey Wood, Pauline Dibben, Gilton Klerck

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Abstract

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the main union federation in South Africa, was instrumental in ending apartheid. This paper evaluates COSATU's post-apartheid role in working for democracy elsewhere in Southern Africa through deepening transnational solidarity, focusing on its role in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Although the federation successfully mobilised trade union members to oppose the contravention of human and labor rights, its ability to affect lasting change was limited by contradictory messages and actions by the South African government, the dualistic nature of institutional formation in these countries, strategic miscalculations and structural limitations on union power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-539
Number of pages13
JournalLabor History
Volume54
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

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