Commercial Workers Union of Zimbabwe president Lucia Matibenga who was also first vice-president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions was ousted as president of CWUZ but she said the coup had been carried out by three staff members who had been fired for financial malfeasance and Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front activists.
Matibenga and the general secretary of CWUZ Edwell Taringa said they had a court injunction to prevent the “new” leadership from conducting any business.
Taringa said the new leadership wanted to leave the ZCTU to join the rival “government-sponsored” Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.
This was going to be a major blow to the ZCTU as the CWUZ was the largest affiliate of the ZCTU, and with 41 000 members it was larger than the next five largest unions combined.
Viewing cable 05HARARE703, GOZ RAIDS ZCTU OFFICES
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
161507Z May 05
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000703
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
AF/S FOR D. MOZENA, B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER
US MISSION GENEVA FOR JOHN CHAMBERLIN
USDOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009
SUBJECT: GOZ RAIDS ZCTU OFFICES
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell for reason 1.4 (b) and (d
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Zimbabwean police raided Zimbabwe Congress
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) offices on May 13, removing files and
small amounts of foreign currency. A renegade element of the
Commercial Workers, Union of Zimbabwe (CWUZ) voted out ZCTU
Vice President Lucia Matibenga as the union’s President, a
move that would strip her of eligibility as ZCTU Vice
President. She dismissed the move as illegal, however, and
told the Embassy that a court order already enjoined the
rogue element from further action. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) ZCTU General Secretary Wellington Chibebe on May 16
confirmed to Econoff media reports that 18 Zimbabwe Republic
Police (ZRP) officers raided ZCTU headquarters on May 13.
Solidarity Center Representative Fisseha Tekie told the
Embassy the same day that the ZRP took files from several
ZCTU departments along with US$30 cash and some Euros.
Chibebe alleged that the GOZ wanted to arrest the current
ZCTU leadership and send a more sympathetic labor delegation
to the June International Labor Organization (ILO) conference
in Geneva. However, so far no arrests of ZCTU leadership
have been reported.
¶3. (C) In a related development, the GOZ-controlled Herald
reported on May 16 that the Commercial Workers, Union of
Zimbabwe (CWUZ) over the weekend removed ZCTU 1st
Vice-President Lucia Matibenga as its President and installed
new leadership. (N.B. if true, according to ZCTU rules,
Matibenga could no longer be ZCTU 1st Vice-President.)
However, Matibenga told Econoff May 16 that three CWUZ staff
members under suspension for financial malfeasance along with
ZANU-PF activists had broken into CWUZ offices and elected a
new leadership without a quorum and with non-union members
¶4. (C) Matibenga and CWUZ General Secretary Edwell Taringa
both stated that they had a court injunction to prevent the
&new8 CWUZ leadership from conducting union business.
Taringa speculated that the &new8 leadership would attempt
to leave the ZCTU and join the GOZ-sponsored Zimbabwe
Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU). As the ZCTU,s largest
union (its 41,100 membership is as large as the next five
largest unions combined), this would prove a major blow to
the ZCTU. However, Taringa was confident that the workers
would rather disassociate themselves from CWUZ than join ZFTU.
¶5. (C) Comment: The GOZ is subjecting ZCTU to a tried and
true tactic that has been quite successful against other
regime critics ) disabling it through a comprehensive
campaign of harassment. Even if Chibebe, Matibenga and
others successfully resist efforts to dislodge them, their
absorption with defending themselves leaves the union little
energy for other objectives. The ILO meetings in Geneva
next month will offer an important opportunity to muster
international support for ZCTU, especially from COSATU.