Cablegate: Harare May Day Celebrations: Platforms for Politics

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



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Laboff attended the Harare May Day rally of the
Zimbabwe Conference of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the umbrella
labor organization which is under attack by the GOZ. While
the May Day celebration has traditionally been the forum for
the ZCTU to address its worker constituency, this year also
saw a direct challenge in the form of a competing rally by
the government-sponsored competing organization -- the
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU). The ZFTU has
been deliberately muscling in on the activities of the ZCTU,
going so far as to force union members to sign forms which
re-direct their membership and payment of dues from the ZCTU
to the ZFTU. This year, the ZFTU deliberately pre-empted --
apparently with GOZ support -- the ZCTU's May Day activities
by pre-booking the majority of venues where the ZCTU's
celebrations have traditionally been held. In Harare, for
instance, the ZCTU's event took place at the smaller Gwanzura
stadium because of a ZFTU rally, accompanied by a soccer
match, at Rufaro Stadium.

2. (U) The ZCTU's event included a parade of about 15 member
unions and speeches by leaders of student unions, teachers'
unions, and the National Constitutional Assembly as well as
ZCTU leadership. The rhetoric consistently emphasized
cooperation between the various civil organizations and
resistance to the "illegitimate" election of Mugabe.
Although socialist Member of Parliament Munyaradzi Gwisai (in
whose district this event was held), resplendent in a black
beret and Che Guevara t-shirt, called for mass action against
Zanu-PF, the speeches were more of a call to resistance,
rather than a call to arms.

3. (U) Contrary to newspaper reports which optimistically
claimed ZCTU attendance of 20,000, we estimate the actual
figure was more in the range of 5000-7500. There was a
significant police presence, including riot control forces,
but the event was peaceful. At the rival ZFTU rally at
Rufaro Stadium, attendance was very limited until the start
of a highly anticipated soccer match, a crowd-draw tactic
also used by the President at his recent inauguration.

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