VP Mujuru refused to pay workers minimum wage

New farmers including Vice-President Joice Mujuru were refusing to pay farm workers the agreed minimum wage according to the secretary general of the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe Gertrude Hambira.

She told this to a visiting delegation from the United States when they met in Harare on 25 August 2006.

According a cable released by Wikileaks Hambira said that the vast majority of Zimbabweans could barely make ends meet as wages failed to keep pace with skyrocketing prices.

She said that school fees per child per term were about Z$10 000 in the rural areas, while the minimum wage for a farm worker was Z$4 000 a month.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE1078, LABOR LEADERS IMPRESS STAFFDEL WITH CANDID TALK OF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE1078

2006-09-06 13:22

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2394

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

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R 061322Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0553

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1306

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1156

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1310

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0071

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0571

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0936

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1364

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3738

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1133

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1775

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1521

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001078

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR M. COPSON AND E.LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/06/2016

TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV ELAB ZI

SUBJECT: LABOR LEADERS IMPRESS STAFFDEL WITH CANDID TALK OF

LABOR MOVEMENT AND WORKERS, STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE IN A

CRASHING ECONOMY

 

REF: A. HARARE 946

 

B. HARARE 1010

C. HARARE 077

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

-------

Summary

-------

 

1. (U) A congressional staff delegation visiting Zimbabwe

came away from a meeting with two prominent labor leaders

impressed with their candid discussion of the fractured state

of the opposition movement and sobering description of the

daily challenges workers face in Zimbabwe's severely

depressed economy. The labor leaders discussed the

importance of a unified opposition, and suggested the easiest

way for the opposition to get back on track and reenergize

the base was to focus on one issue alone - "poverty." End

Summary.

 

--------------------------------------------- --

The Opposition Movement - "A Toothless Bulldog"

--------------------------------------------- --

 

2. (U) The staffdel included: House International Relations

Committee staffers Gregory Simpkins and Pearl-Alice March, as

well as, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee staffer Heather

Flynn. On August 25, they met with two of Zimbabwe's leading

labor activists, Gertrude Hambira, General Secretary of the

General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe

(GAPWUZ) and Raymond Majongwe, Secretary General of the

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ). The two

activists described to the staffdel the disunity of the

opposition party, the weakness of the labor movement, and the

dire economic straits of Zimbabwean workers.

 

3. (C) Hambira said that the opposition movement, which had

grown out of the labor movement, was in danger of appearing

as a "toothless bulldog" given a string of unfulfilled

promises of mass action and missed opportunities to take the

government to task over its failed policies. She noted in

particular the absence of reaction to Operation Murambatsvina

("Restore Order") (ref A) and to the recent currency exchange

program which had severely impacted Zimbabwe's poorest

citizens (ref B).

 

4. (C) For his part, Majongwe pointed to competing

personalities and strategies in the opposition leadership for

the lack of decisive action. Asked by the staffdel what the

opposition could do to foment protest, Majongwe remarked that

the opposition lacked a single message that resonated and

inspired; instead the leaders continued to highlight dull

issues, such as unfair taxes and levies for undelivered

benefits. Mujongwe recommended, with Hambira nodding in

approval, that all the civil society groups focus their

message on one simple and hard hitting theme - "poverty."

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), an opposition group that was

successfully attracting public support, had done so because

its leaders only addressed bread and butter issues like the

rising cost of food, school fees, and medical care for

children.

 

5. (U) In terms of the labor movement, both Hambira and

Majongwe lamented how tough economic conditions and high

unemployment had sapped labor's dues-paying membership base

and constrained its ability to pursue crucial labor

activities. Consequently, labor groups were increasingly

 

HARARE 00001078 002 OF 002

 

 

becoming social welfare organizations rather than promoters

and protectors of worker's rights. Hambira said GAPWUZ

representatives were also increasingly hindered from gaining

access to farms to organize workers. In a follow-on meeting,

she told Embassy officers that the union's representatives

had been continually denied access to farms owned by

prominent government officials, including Godfrey

Chidyausiku, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Jocelyn

Chiwenga, wife of Zimbabwe Defense Forces Commander General

Constantine Chiwenga.

 

------------------------

The Struggle to Survive

------------------------

 

6. (U) Hambira explained to the staffdel that the vast

majority of Zimbabweans could barely make ends meet as wages

failed to keep pace with skyrocketing prices. Illustrating

the crisis, she noted that school fees per child/term were

about Z$10 thousand (or about US$15 at the parallel market

rate) in the rural areas, while the minimum wage for a farm

worker was Z$4 thousand/ month (or about US$6/ month at the

parallel market rate). Consequently, many farm workers were

opting for subsistence farming and selling what little

surplus they could grow to generate income, rather than labor

on a farm for less than a living wage. Hambira added that

only the party elite had benefited from land seizures while

the workers were now actually suffering worse working

conditions and relatively lower pay than before with many

farmers, including Vice President Joice Mujuru, refusing to

even pay the agreed upon minimum wage.

 

7. (U) Hambira said labor leaders had also met strong

resistance from business representatives during the recent

Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) talks when they sought to

link the minimum wage to the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) (ref

C). The TNF talks, which bring together government,

business, and labor to discuss ongoing economic and social

challenges facing the country, are in danger of collapsing as

business and labor have been unable to come to an agreement

over the PDL impasse. The PDL, a number calculated as the

minimum required for a family of six to pay basic expenses,

is currently set at Z$84 thousand/month (or US$130/ month at

the parallel market rate).

 

--------

Comment

--------

 

8. (C) The labor leaders poignantly highlighted the grim

daily reality of working Zimbabweans, particularly compared

to the country's recent past as Southern Africa's

breadbasket. They also made a strong argument that an

effective and unified opposition was critical to turning the

country around. In response to concerns like these, Morgan

Tsvangirai, President of the anti-Senate faction of the

 

SIPDIS

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led an unauthorized

march of 500-1000 people September 1, including 40 senior

members of his faction, on Parliament to deliver a petition

protesting Zimbabwe's growing political and economic crisis.

(Septel) End Comment.

DELL

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