Eyes of the world watching


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Labour activists were gaining courage to confront the government more because the eyes of the world were watching rather than that they could mobilise the people as they seemed to have little support in the absence of the leadership of the labour movement.

This was demonstrated when the second string leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade unions tried to organise a two-day stay-away which had to be called off after it garnered very little support when the labour leaders were released.

Only four: Lovemore Matombo, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and President of the Communication Workers; Wellington Chibebe, Secretary-General of the ZCTU; Lucia Matibenga, Vice President of the ZCTU and President of the Commercial Workers; and Elisa Mlotshwa, Vice President of the ZCTU and President of the Clothing Workers union; were charged under the Public Order Security Act.

The United States embassy said the hastily called two-day stay-away was an ill-advised move that had little hope of success from the start.

“Further similar protests are likely, since many labour leaders doubt that any change will come without increased confrontation,” the embassy said. “As the stakes increase, many of the labour activists are taking courage from the fact that the eyes of the world are watching.”

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE2279, HARARE LABOR LEADERS RELEASED, MOST WITHOUT CHARGES

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2279

2003-11-24 04:56

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 002279

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON ELAB PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: HARARE LABOR LEADERS RELEASED, MOST WITHOUT CHARGES

 

REF: A. HARARE 2259

 

B. HARARE 2257

 

1. (SBU) All of the Harare-area labor detainees have now

appeared before the court, with only four being charged under

the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and the rest

released without charges. Those leaders answering charges

are: Lovemore Matombo, President of the Zimbabwe Congress of

Trade Unions (ZCTU) and President of the Communication

Workers; Wellington Chibebe, Secretary-General of the ZCTU;

Lucia Matibenga, Vice President of the ZCTU and President of

the Commercial Workers; and Elisa Mlotshwa, Vice President of

the ZCTU and President of the Clothing Workers union.

 

2. (SBU) Some labor sources speculate that the GOZ’s failure

to bring charges against most detainees may be a political

as much as a legal decision. Although the prosecutors

reportedly conceded to the detainees that there was little

chance of successful prosecution even under the POSA, one

labor observer believes that the GOZ is trying to avoid as

much controversy as possible in advance of a hoped-for,

last-minute invitation to the Commonwealth Heads of

Government Meeting (CHOGM). Regardless of the reason, the

majority of the detainees have now been spared a long-running

and expensive defense against the GOZ’s widely-criticized

security laws.

 

Comment

——-

 

3. (SBU) The hastily called two day stayaway, which garnered

very little support, was cancelled upon the release of the

labor leaders. The consensus among observers seems to be

that this was an ill-advised move, called by the second

string leadership, that had little hope of success from the

start. Communication (in the absence of independent new

sources, reftels) remains a key problem, and it is

increasingly difficult to get the entire picture. Labor

sources are likewise constrained, both in disseminating and

gathering information as indicated by their lack of

information on some detainees in the outlying areas. Further

similar protests are likely, since many labor leaders doubt

that any change will come without increased confrontation.

As the stakes increase, many of the labor activists are

taking courage from the fact that the eyes of the world are

watching. End comment.

SULLIVAN

(5 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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