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Cablegate: Labor Stayaway a Damp Squib

VZCZCXRO4109
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0869/01 2641028
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211028Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1922
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1713
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1587
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1717
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0354
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0983
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1346
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1774
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4192
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1545
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2207
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0838
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1934
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//
RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000869

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV ELAB ZI
SUBJECT: LABOR STAYAWAY A DAMP SQUIB

REF: HARARE 00857

-------
Summary
-------

1. (U) Massive unemployment, fear of job loss, government
intimidation, and arrests combined to produce a meager
response from workers to a two-day countrywide "stay-away"
called by ZCTU for September 19 - 20. In the past week,
security agents hauled in labor leaders for interrogations,
arrested organizers for handing out flyers, and visited
businesses to intimidate workers. During the stay-away, the
commercial and industrial areas of Harare and Bulawayo, the
country's second largest city, were business as usual. End
Summary.

-----------------------
Just Not Worth the Risk
-----------------------

2. (U) The two-day stay-away (reftel) called by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) attracted a meager response
from workers throughout the country. Primary reasons for the
poor showing were the lack of actual workers in the formal
sector in a time of massive unemployment and reluctance of
those still working to risk their jobs. Government
intimidation and fear also played a part. During the
stay-away, the commercial and industrial areas of Harare and
Bulawayo, the country's second largest city, were business as
usual. There were reports that some workers reported to
their jobs, but did not actually work.

3. (U) An economist at the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI) told us that worker support for the
stay-away was lacking primarily due to harsh economic
conditions. The few Zimbabweans working in formal sector
were reluctant to participate in any labor action and risked
losing their jobs. Additionally, with ongoing widespread
shortages of basic commodities, many workers depended on the
free meal they receive at the company cantina as their only
sustenance.

---------------------------------------------
Police Round-up Leaders and Arrest Organizers
---------------------------------------------

4. (U) Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reported that
at least 10 ZCTU officials were arrested and detained before
the stay-away -- all have since been released. In addition
to the ZCTU leaders interrogated in Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo,
and Masvigo during the past week, police on September 18
visited the home of ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo to pick
him up for questioning. Matombo was not home at the time, so
police arrested his brother and house staff in order to
coerce them to reveal his whereabouts. They have all since
been released.

5. (U) Additionally, three ZCTU organizers arrested on
September 15 for handing out flyers in the industrial area of
Harare were released on remand on September 20. The
organizers face charges of criminal nuisance under the
Criminal Act and must report back to court on October 3.
ZLHR lawyer Rangu Nyamurundira told us that while the
organizers were not assaulted during arrest, police at Mbare

HARARE 00000869 002 OF 002


Police Station in Harare did beat them while they were in
custody. Another person arrested along with the organizers
for merely picking up and reading one of the flyers was also
released on September 20.

-----------------------------------
Comment -- Is Labor Still A Player?
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Until recently, the labor movement has been a major
player in Zimbabwe politics. The main opposition MDC party
was born out of the labor movement in late 1999, and many of
its leaders, including anti-Senate MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai, were once leaders of the ZCTU. However, poor

SIPDIS
showings in the past several labor actions organized by the
ZCTU call into question the continued political relevance of
the labor movement and its importance as a pillar of the
opposition. End Comment.
RAYNOR

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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