A delegation of 13 members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions which had come to Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission despite warning by the government that it was not welcome were deported after being held for several hours according to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions vice-President Lucia Matibenga.
Matibenga said Zimbabwean immigration officials broke up a meeting between ZCTU and COSATU and detained the South African trade unionists for several hours, explaining that they were awaiting a decision from the cabinet which was holding its regular Tuesday morning meeting.
Immigration officials informed the ZCTU leadership that cabinet had reached a decision to deport the thirteen delegates.
Viewing cable 04HARARE1770, GOZ Deports COSATU Delegates
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
261425Z Oct 04
UNCLAS HARARE 001770
STATE FOR AF/S
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: GOZ Deports COSATU Delegates
Sensitive but unclassified.
¶1. (SBU) Local Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU)
officials have confirmed press reports that the GOZ
deported thirteen visiting delegates from the Congress of
South African Trade Unions this afternoon. ZCTU Vice
President Lucia Matibenga said Zimbabwean immigration
officials broke up a meeting between ZCTU and COSATU at
10:45 am. According to Matibenga, the immigration
workers detained the South African trade unionists for
several hours, explaining that they were awaiting a
decision from the GOZ cabinet, which was holding its
regular Tuesday morning meeting. Around midday, the
immigration officials informed ZCTU leadership that
cabinet had reached a decision to deport the thirteen
delegates. Maitibenga believes the delegates were put on
a 3:00pm British Airways flight to Johannesburg.
¶2. (SBU) Despite the GOZ’s attempt to cancel COSATU’s
visit, the COSATU delegation entered Zimbabwe last night
on a fact-finding mission. According to press reports,
immigration authorities held the delegates in the airport
for 1-2 hours before admitting them to the country. The
South African labor body planned to meet representatives
of both parties and civil society, in addition to holding
meetings with ZCTU.
¶3. (SBU) Comment: Having warned COSATU against coming in
advance, the GOZ may have felt that deportation of the
group was necessary to preserve its credibility. The
Government may be especially loath to let domestic and
foreign critics develop any momentum in the wake of
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s acquittal on
treason charges earlier this month. The move may
backfire, though, if it stimulates a strong response from
South African media and civil society that in turn
heartens and emboldens domestic critics here or, equally
important, encourages COSATU to put pressure on Mbeki to
engage more actively on Zimbabwe. In any event, the
truculent move underscores the ruling party’s instinct
for a defiant rather than an accommodating posture in
response to attempts at outside intervention.