Cablegate: May Day- an Urgent Call for Help
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
041232Z May 04
UNCLAS HARARE 000748
STATE FOR AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
USDOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG
STATE FOR MARINDA HARPOLE
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PHUM ETRD ECON EINV PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: May Day- An Urgent Call for Help
1. (SBU) Summary: The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) and government-backed Zimbabwe Federation
of Trade Unions (ZFTU) held rival May Day celebrations.
While ZCTU focused on tax policy and wages, ZFTU focused
on health and safety in the workplace. ZCTU attracted
crowds throughout Zimbabwe despite government
intimidation. End summary.
ZCTU TURNOUT DESPITE INTIMIDATION
2. (SBU) ZCTU leaders declared May Day events a success
despite government attempts to scare people from
attending. ZCTU estimates 10-15,000 in attendance while
government and other sources estimate 5-7,000.
3. (SBU) According to ZCTU General Secretary Wellington
Chibebe, The city councils of Norton and Chiredzi refused
to allow ZCTU-sponsored May Day celebrations. Zanu-PF
youth warned Mbare residents to stay away from ZCTU
celebrations or risk eviction from their homes. A hotel
owner in Kwekwe, (who also represents Zanu-PF on a local
level) called the police and ordered all ZCTU personnel
out of his hotel. The owner dismissed the manager who had
accepted the ZCTU deposit.
4. (SBU) ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo exhorted the
crowd to join new demonstrations in the coming weeks.
ZCTU also emphasized tax reform, quarterly wage reviews,
and a Z$1 Million minimum monthly wage (US$188). ZCTU
argued that government should not tax people earning
under the Z$861,000 poverty line (US$161).
5. (SBU) Other ZCTU leaders blamed low turnout on fears
of government reprisals. Deputy General Secretary Collen
Gwiyo also suggested poor advertising contributed to the
low turnout. In Mutare, he estimated a crowd of 3-5000.
Information Officer Mlamileli Sibanda noted several
companies set up booths at the rally.
PRO ZANU-PF ZFTU DRAWS LARGE CROWD
6. (SBU) ZFTU focused on health and safety in the
workplace in rival May Day celebrations that drew 15000.
They also touted success in reinstating or securing
restitution for wrongfully or unfairly dismissed
employees. Some in attendance advocated engagement
amongst trade unions, government, and employers in a
social contract dialog- a clear reference to the
suspended Tripartite negotiations.
7. (SBU) Minister of Public Service, Labour, and Social
Welfare Paul Mangwana failed to attend either the ZCTU or
ZFTU events despite committing to speak at both events.
8. (SBU) Reports of ZCTU's demise are premature. The
larger ZFTU rally included a soccer match between two
popular teams and famous singer Simon Chimbetu. ZCTU's
ability to attract thousands without big name
entertainment demonstrates its strong membership base.
However, the continuing emphasis on demonstrations as a
change mechanism once again suggests a lack of new ideas.