Police took ZCTU more seriously than NCA


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Police were more prepared when the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions tried to organise protest marches which promoted United States ambassador Christopher Dell to comment that the government did not take the National Constitutional Assembly seriously.

NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku had organised protests earlier and had boasted that he had a new tactic which put off the police resulting in them arresting very few people, only 16.

Dell said unlike the NCA protests; the police were ready for the ZCTU. The greater vigilance of the police likely reflected growing government concern at a more visible opposition.

Police disrupted the ZCTU demonstration and arrested labour leaders Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibebe and 120 other ZCTU activists.

ZCTU spokesman Mlamleli Sibanda said that the protestors had achieved their main objective and had delivered a petition to the Ministry of Finance.

The petition demanded a minimum wage of at least Z$9.5 million (the Poverty Datum Line), a maximum of a 30 percent income tax, free anti-retro-viral drugs (ARVs), an improvement in fuel availability, and protection of jobs by not allowing cheap, substandard Chinese goods into Zimbabwe.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE1534, TRADE UNION PROTESTS AND ARRESTS

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1534

2005-11-09 15:46

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001534

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: ELAB ASEC PHUM SOCI PGOV ECON ZI ZCTU

SUBJECT: TRADE UNION PROTESTS AND ARRESTS

 

REF: A) HARARE 1527 B) HARARE 981 C) HARARE 703 D)

HARARE 671 E) HARARE 617

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——–

Summary

——–

 

1. (C) The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) staged

protests in six major cities across Zimbabwe on November 8,

ending with the delivery of a petition to the Minister of

Finance on the country’s economic meltdown. At least 120

people ZCTU activists, including ZCTU President Lovermore

Matombo and General Secretary Wellington Chibebe, were

arrested as a result of the demonstrations. ZCTU

Spokesperson Mlamleli Sibanda declared the action a success.

National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Lovemore

Madhuku and others arrested in connection with the NCA’s

November 5 marches remain incarcerated. End Summary.

 

——————————

Harare Protest Makes an Impact

——————————

 

2. (C) The ZCTU had planned to stage protests in Harare,

Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, and Chinhoyi on November

8. The police disrupted the protest in Harare, which ZCTU

claimed included 500 people. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human

Rights (ZLHR) representative Irene Petras told PolOff on

November 8 that police had arrested 120 ZCTU activists in

Harare, with 116 still in police custody on November 9,

including General Secretary Wellington Chibebe and President

Lovemore Matombo. In a circular distributed on November 9,

the labor union noted unconfirmed reports that Chibebe and

others had been tortured the previous night. (Post has since

confirmed with ZCTU lawyers that Chibebe has so far not been

physically abused in custody.)

 

3. (C) Despite the arrests, Sibanda stated that the

protestors had achieved their main objective and had

delivered a petition to the Ministry of Finance. The

petition demanded a minimum wage of at least Z$9.5 million

(the Poverty Datum Line), a maximum of a 30 percent income

tax, free anti-retro-viral drugs (ARVs), an improvement in

fuel availability, and protection of jobs by not allowing

cheap, substandard Chinese goods into Zimbabwe.

 

——————————

Other Protests Less Successful

——————————

 

4. (C) Sibanda claimed the protests in Bulawayo and Mutare

had each drawn 200 people. However, suspended Mutare mayor

M.T. Kagurabadza and local Bulawayo businessman Jyotirdhar

Laxmidas independently told PolOff that the police had

prevented the marches in both cities by arresting key

individuals before the protests started. Police also

reportedly cordoned off areas in Gweru, Chinhoyi, and

Masvingo to prevent the protests in those cities from going

forward.

 

5. (SBU) For its part, the state media acknowledged the

protests but downplayed their significance. It reported the

arrest of the leadership, which it claimed was acting without

the concurrence of ZCTU’s constituent unions, and urged the

public to cooperate with police against “disruptive” and

“anti-Zimbabwe” elements.

 

——————

Other Developments

——————

 

6. (C) The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) put out a

press statement on November 9 stating that NCA,s Chairman

Lovemore Madhuku was still being detained at Stodart Police

Station in the Mbare high-density suburb of Harare. The

statement went on to say that Chitungwiza Mayor Mischeck

Shoko and NCA Field Officer for Manicaland Bernard Dube were

arrested on November 9.

 

——–

Comment

——–

 

7. (C) Unlike the NCA protests over the weekend, the police

were ready for the ZCTU on November 8. The greater vigilance

of the police likely reflects growing GOZ concern at a more

visible opposition. However, if the pace of protests

continues to increase — with more planned actions for this

coming week (Ref A) — the loyalty and resolve of the police

may be further tested.

DELL

 

(4 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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