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Is labour still a player

A two-day stay-away called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in September 2007 flopped because of massive unemployment, fear of job loss, government intimidation and arrests of activists.

This raised questions about whether the labour movement which was the key player in the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change was still a major player in Zimbabwe politics.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several of his top lieutenants were once leaders of the MDC with Tsvangirai as the labour movement’s secretary-general.

According to the United States embassy, poor showings in several labour actions organised by the ZCTU called into question the relevance of the labour movement and its importance as a pillar of the opposition.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE869, LABOR STAYAWAY A DAMP SQUIB

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE869

2007-09-21 10:28

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4109

PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0869/01 2641028

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 211028Z SEP 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1922

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1713

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1587

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1717

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0354

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0983

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1346

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1774

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4192

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1545

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2207

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0838

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1934

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000869

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ELAB ZI

SUBJECT: LABOR STAYAWAY A DAMP SQUIB

 

REF: HARARE 00857

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (U) Massive unemployment, fear of job loss, government

intimidation, and arrests combined to produce a meager

response from workers to a two-day countrywide “stay-away”

called by ZCTU for September 19 – 20. In the past week,

security agents hauled in labor leaders for interrogations,

arrested organizers for handing out flyers, and visited

businesses to intimidate workers. During the stay-away, the

commercial and industrial areas of Harare and Bulawayo, the

country’s second largest city, were business as usual. End

Summary.

 

———————–

Just Not Worth the Risk

———————–

 

2. (U) The two-day stay-away (reftel) called by the Zimbabwe

Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) attracted a meager response

from workers throughout the country. Primary reasons for the

poor showing were the lack of actual workers in the formal

sector in a time of massive unemployment and reluctance of

those still working to risk their jobs. Government

intimidation and fear also played a part. During the

stay-away, the commercial and industrial areas of Harare and

Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city, were business as

usual. There were reports that some workers reported to

their jobs, but did not actually work.

 

3. (U) An economist at the Confederation of Zimbabwe

Industries (CZI) told us that worker support for the

stay-away was lacking primarily due to harsh economic

conditions. The few Zimbabweans working in formal sector

were reluctant to participate in any labor action and risked

losing their jobs. Additionally, with ongoing widespread

shortages of basic commodities, many workers depended on the

free meal they receive at the company cantina as their only

sustenance.

 

———————————————

Police Round-up Leaders and Arrest Organizers

———————————————

 

4. (U) Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reported that

at least 10 ZCTU officials were arrested and detained before

the stay-away — all have since been released. In addition

to the ZCTU leaders interrogated in Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo,

and Masvigo during the past week, police on September 18

visited the home of ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo to pick

him up for questioning. Matombo was not home at the time, so

police arrested his brother and house staff in order to

coerce them to reveal his whereabouts. They have all since

been released.

 

5. (U) Additionally, three ZCTU organizers arrested on

September 15 for handing out flyers in the industrial area of

Harare were released on remand on September 20. The

organizers face charges of criminal nuisance under the

Criminal Act and must report back to court on October 3.

ZLHR lawyer Rangu Nyamurundira told us that while the

organizers were not assaulted during arrest, police at Mbare

 

HARARE 00000869 002 OF 002

 

 

Police Station in Harare did beat them while they were in

custody. Another person arrested along with the organizers

for merely picking up and reading one of the flyers was also

released on September 20.

 

———————————–

Comment — Is Labor Still A Player?

———————————–

 

6. (SBU) Until recently, the labor movement has been a major

player in Zimbabwe politics. The main opposition MDC party

was born out of the labor movement in late 1999, and many of

its leaders, including anti-Senate MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai, were once leaders of the ZCTU. However, poor

 

SIPDIS

showings in the past several labor actions organized by the

ZCTU call into question the continued political relevance of

the labor movement and its importance as a pillar of the

opposition. End Comment.

RAYNOR

 

(4 VIEWS)

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