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Cablegate: Harare Labor Leaders Released, Most Without Charges

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

UNCLAS HARARE 002279

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ELAB PGOV PHUM ZI
SUBJECT: HARARE LABOR LEADERS RELEASED, MOST WITHOUT CHARGES

REF: A. HARARE 2259

B. HARARE 2257

1. (SBU) All of the Harare-area labor detainees have now
appeared before the court, with only four being charged under
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and the rest
released without charges. Those leaders answering charges
are: Lovemore Matombo, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) and President of the Communication
Workers; Wellington Chibebe, Secretary-General of the ZCTU;
Lucia Matibenga, Vice President of the ZCTU and President of
the Commercial Workers; and Elisa Mlotshwa, Vice President of
the ZCTU and President of the Clothing Workers union.

2. (SBU) Some labor sources speculate that the GOZ's failure
to bring charges against most detainees may be a political
as much as a legal decision. Although the prosecutors
reportedly conceded to the detainees that there was little
chance of successful prosecution even under the POSA, one
labor observer believes that the GOZ is trying to avoid as
much controversy as possible in advance of a hoped-for,
last-minute invitation to the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM). Regardless of the reason, the
majority of the detainees have now been spared a long-running
and expensive defense against the GOZ's widely-criticized
security laws.

Comment
-------

3. (SBU) The hastily called two day stayaway, which garnered
very little support, was cancelled upon the release of the
labor leaders. The consensus among observers seems to be
that this was an ill-advised move, called by the second
string leadership, that had little hope of success from the
start. Communication (in the absence of independent new
sources, reftels) remains a key problem, and it is
increasingly difficult to get the entire picture. Labor
sources are likewise constrained, both in disseminating and
gathering information as indicated by their lack of
information on some detainees in the outlying areas. Further
similar protests are likely, since many labor leaders doubt
that any change will come without increased confrontation.
As the stakes increase, many of the labor activists are
taking courage from the fact that the eyes of the world are
watching. End comment.
SULLIVAN

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