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Cablegate: Zimbabwean Labor Leader Interrogated, Office Raided

VZCZCXRO2190
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0168/01 0551529
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241527Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0131
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000168

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
AF/S FOR BWALCH
DRL FOR SMORGAN, MMITTELHAUSER, AND TDANG
DOL/ILAB FOR SHALEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV PHUM PREL PREF ASEC ZI
SUBJECT: Zimbabwean Labor Leader Interrogated, Office Raided

REF: 09HARARE760

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SUMMARY

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1. (SBU) On February 19, the Secretary General of the General
Agriculture and Plantation Workers' Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ),
Gertrude Hambira, was interrogated by a group of 17 security
officials for her part in producing a film documenting abuse
suffered by farm workers in Zimbabwe. During the interrogation,
senior security officers intimidated and threatened the leader of
the farm workers' union and her lawyer. On Wednesday February 24,
GAPWUZ's office was raided. Hambira fears she and GAPWUZ may face
further action by the government in retaliation for the
documentary. END SUMMARY.

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Farm Workers Union Leader Interrogated

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2. (SBU) On Friday February 19, Gertrude Hambira, the Secretary
General of GAPWUZ appeared before a group of security officials
representing the Joint Operations Command (JOC) at the request of
an assistant commissioner of police.

3. (SBU) According to Hambira, she and her lawyer ,Trust Maanda
from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights , appeared for about 45
minutes before a group of 17 security officials from the army,
police, prison service, and intelligence services. Deputy Police
Commissioner Innocent Matibiri (who is President Mugabe's nephew)
led the questioning. Matibiri began by asking about the video and
report "House of Justice" that was produced by GAPWUZ in
conjunction with another local organization, the Research and
Advocacy Unit with assistance from the U.S.-based organization
Witness. "House of Justice" was first shown to a group of
diplomats in Harare in October (reftel) and has since been shown in
numerous settings internationally and is also on the internet on
You Tube and other websites. (NOTE: The documentary is online at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqOjiq19rHk. END NOTE.)

4. (SBU) Matibiri asked Hambira why she made the video rather than
reporting the issue to the Joint Operational Command ( JOC). He
asked who "gave her the authority" to make the documentary. The
interrogators also told Hambira that the video dealt with human
rights issues "not trade union issues" and accused her of
overstretching her bounds. An army official known as Chedundu
heckled, "These people are dangerous. Are there any rooms in the
cells? We should put them in the cells right now." They also
warned Maanda that he needed to be careful if he was going to
associate with such dangerous people.

5. (SBU) The group asked Hambira about her funding sources. (NOTE:
She did not disclose that GAPWUZ receives funding from any
government. END NOTE.) They also asked how far the video had
gone, specifically asking if the video had been given to the
Southern Africa Development Community. At the end of the meeting,
they told Hambira that they would call her back. When we met with
Hambira on February 22, she indicated her office had already taken
measures to increase security but that GAPWUZ needed additional
measures to protect the security of its data.

6. (SBU) Hambira told us she had reported the incident to Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions' President Lovemore Matombo, who promised
to raise the incident with the Minister of Labor.

HARARE 00000168 002 OF 002


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GAPWUZ Office Raided; Hambira Hiding

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7. (SBU) At noon on February 24, GAPWUZ's office in downtown Harare
was raided by security officials looking for documents and for
Hambira. Hambira was out of the office at the time and is in a
safe place.

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COMMENT

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8. (SBU) The security service team's interrogation of Hambira has
sent a shiver through many in civil society who see it as a harsh
reminder that the security environment remains tenuous for those
who speak out against the security forces and ZANU-PF. It is
unclear why the JOC has taken such a sudden interest now - months
after the video was released and shown to a wide audience. We
suspect someone senior in government just learned about the
documentary and was angry to learn that the security forces had
done nothing to block it. Regardless of the reasons why, this
intimidation of GAPWUZ is evidence that the security forces'
attitude towards labor unions has not changed.
Dhanani

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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