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Trouble at the ZCTU

Allegations of financial mismanagement at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions way back in 2005 were brushed off as the work of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front trying to change the leadership of the labour movement to replace it with one sympathetic to the ruling party.

Three trade unions had called for an investigation into the labour body and called upon the president Lovemore Matombo and his deputy Lucia Matibenga to resign because they were no longer employed.

The president of the ZCTU was supposed to be employed in the trade related to his or her union. It was only the secretary general who worked full-time for the labour body.

Matombo and then secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe brushed off the allegations by the three unions saying they were acting on government orders.

The two claimed that President Robert Mugabe had given up on replacing the ZCTU with the ZANU-PF’s Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions and was instead now seeking to engineer a leadership change within ZCTU that would end the union’s opposition to government policies.

Ed: Matombo tried to form a splinter group of the ZCTU when he was finally voted out, but the High Court barred him from using the labour body’s name and purporting to represent it.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE617, GOZ GOES AFTER ZCTU

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE617

2005-04-26 12:17

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000617

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN, TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW,

PASS USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER, STATE PASS USAID FOR

MARJORIE COPSON, US MISSION GENEVA FOR JOHN CHAMBERLIN,

USDOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: ELAB PGOV ECON ZI ZCTU

SUBJECT: GOZ GOES AFTER ZCTU

 

Classified By: Charge’ de’ affaires Eric T. Schultz a.i. for reason 1.5

d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Since the March 31 Parliamentary elections, the

leaders of three unions have been pressing for a leadership

change at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

Among other charges, the three union leaders have alleged

financial malfeasance. However, the ZCTU leadership and many

of the other union leaders see the hand of the GOZ in this

leadership challenge, which even if unsuccessful could still

result in a Labor Ministry investigation that could hamstring

ZCTU activities. End Summary.

 

—————————-

ZCTU Leadership Under Attack

—————————-

 

2. (C) Deputy General Secretary of Zimbabwe Construction and

Allied Workers Union Mazarura, Associated Mine Workers of

Zimbabwe General Secretary Midzi, and Zimbabwe Leather Shoes

& Allied Workers Union President Mugeji told EconOff on April

12 that they suspected financial malfeasance by the ZCTU

leadership and that ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo and 1st

Vice President Lucia Matibenga should resign given their lack

of employment. On April 19, the three union leaders went

public with their allegations in a notice in the

GOZ-controlled Herald. The statement demanded that the ZCTU

leadership cease to direct its affairs and that new

representation be appointed for local, regional, and

international fora.

 

——————–

Attacks GOZ-Inspired

——————–

 

3. (C) In a meeting with the Ambassador on April 14, Matombo

and Chibebe claimed that the three unions were acting on

orders from the GOZ. They said President Mugabe had given up

on replacing ZCTU with ZANU-PF,s phantom labor body, the

Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU). Instead, Mugabe

now sought to engineer a leadership change within ZCTU that

would end the union,s opposition to government policies.

Matombo said Mugabe was disappointed that ZANU-PF had not

fared better in urban constituencies in the March 31

parliamentary elections and blamed his party,s poor showing

on MDC,s strong backing from unionized workers. Chibebe

added that the GOZ might try to engineer a leadership change

before the May 31-June 16 International Labor Organization

(ILO) annual conference where ILO delegates were expected to

pass a resolution condemning the GOZ.

 

4. (C) In an April 19 meeting with Econoff, several union

leaders agreed with Matombo and Chibebe that the GOZ was

behind the crisis. Most of the union leaders said the

agitators, efforts would be futile without a majority of

affiliates behind them. However, Progressive Teachers Union

of Zimbabwe General Secretary Majongwe said the individuals

involved would not stop until they affected either a

leadership change or a Labor Ministry investigation, which

could amount to the same thing.

 

——————————————–

Legal Basis for Labor Ministry Investigation

——————————————–

 

5. (C) While the next ZCTU elections are scheduled for 2006,

a successful General Council no-confidence vote (17 of 33

affiliates) would force an early election. Moreover, The

Labor Act does provide for alternative methods to force new

elections. For example, under Section 120(1) the Labor

Minister can investigate the ZCTU based upon a &reasonable

cause8 of either misappropriation of financial assets or the

leadership acting to the detriment to the interests of the

members. Also, under Section 120(3), the Minister can

de-register and wind-up the ZCTU,s affairs or place it under

receivership until a new leadership is elected. Finally,

under Section 51, the Labor Minister can supervise labor

union elections, including the pre-election campaigning, when

in the &national interest8.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

6. (C) While many had hoped that ZANU-PF would loosen its

grip after winning the elections, the opposite has occurred.

It should be noted that former Minister for State Security

Goche is now Minister for Public Service, Labour, and Social

Welfare– and he was put there for a reason. ZCTU was the

birthplace of the MDC and has been one of the backbones of

political opposition to ZANU-PF. For now, the ZCTU

leadership may retain enough clout to withstand a

no-confidence vote but the GOZ,s intent seems clear.

Moreover, a Labor Ministry investigation in the near term

cannot be ruled out and could also effectively neutralize

ZCTU.

SCHULTZ

(4 VIEWS)

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