Cablegate: A Conversation with Wellington Chibebe
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001083
STATE FOR AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
STATE FOR DRL/IL
E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EAID BTIO EINV ECON PGOV ZI ZCTU
SUBJECT: A CONVERSATION WITH WELLINGTON CHIBEBE
1. (SBU) Summary: After attending the International
Labor Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva, Wellington
Chibebe, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Union's (ZCTU), talks about the ILO Conference,
land nationalization, and wage negotiations. End summary.
2. (SBU) Chibebe declared the ILO conference a success.
Delegates sharply questioned GOZ about its labor
practices even as some delegates saw positive steps in
recent labor law changes. The next test will be ILO
Section 87 Freedom of Association provisions.
3. (SBU) Chibebe was embarrassed by Labor Minister
Mangwana's shouting and ranting about imperialists trying
to re-colonize Zimbabwe and curtail the country's
sovereignty. Mangwana repeatedly denounced the ZCTU as an
instrument of the opposition. At one point, a GOZ
representative accosted the Canadian delegation, calling
them racists. A GOZ representative also threatened
reprisal against the Swazi labor delegate for openly
siding with ZCTU and criticizing GOZ. In the plenary
session, delegates expressed disappointment with GOZ's
behavior- they expected more professionalism.
4. (SBU) Chibebe clearly stated his opposition to
nationalization. He was also confused about how the
announcement came out- first with an all-inclusive
nationalization and then with a pared-down "only acquired
land" version. Chibebe opined that GOZ would nationalize
all productive farmland (with an eye towards the
industrial sector afterwards). However, international and
domestic criticism forced a temporary retreat. He
believes GOZ will simply list all properties with
productive farmland, thereby marrying the two seemingly
disparate policy statements.
5. (SBU) Chibebe expressed optimism about the current
round of wage negotiations. Employers and employees
agreed to conduct quarterly wage negotiations to keep up
with hyperinflation. Some even negotiate monthly.
6. (SBU) Negotiations have been difficult, with both
business and labor recognizing the need to balance the
need of workers for higher wages against the need for
employers to hold down costs.
7. (SBU) Some workers are currently earning as little as
Z$100K+/month while ZCTU estimates Z$800K-Z$1 Million as
a living wage. However, average worker pay should climb
to around Z$500K by negotiations' end. Chibebe hopes the
minimum will be Z$800K by year-end.
8. (SBU) Chibebe appeared genuinely satisfied with the
ILO Conference. ILO delegates took GOZ's assault on labor
seriously and GOZ's behavior did not impress the world.
9. (SBU) Chibebe believes Zanu-PF will nationalize all
productive farmland in order to control their own members
as well as the general population. The state technically
owns properties reportedly taken by ZANU-PF bigwigs
anyway, so their private interests will not deter full
nationalization. Chibebe cites the recent expulsion of MP
Paradza and the closing of The Tribune newspaper (Paradza
was one of the owners)as evidence of ZANU-PF's desire to
control its own membership.
10. (SBU) ZCTU has no immediate plans of action, other
than to prepare for elections. ZCTU expects increasingly
aggressive GOZ harassment as elections near. All eyes are
on next year's elections. Meanwhile, Zanu-PF continues
its succession battles while the opposition takes cover.