The differing views of the ZCTU and the ZFTU


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The country’s two major labour federations the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions did not only have different profiles, one closer to the Movement for Democratic Change and the other to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, but they even had different themes for the My Day celebrations in 2005.

The ZCTU focused on poverty and taxes while the ZFTU accused employers of purposefully causing shortages of basic commodities to stir civil unrest.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE671, ZCTU CELEBRATES MAY DAY UNDER THREAT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE671

2005-05-10 16:03

2011-08-30 01:44

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 000671

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN, TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW,

PASS USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER, STATE PASS USAID FOR

MARJORIE COPSON, US MISSION GENEVA FOR JOHN CHAMBERLIN,

USDOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: ELAB PGOV ECON ZI ZCTU

SUBJECT: ZCTU CELEBRATES MAY DAY UNDER THREAT

 

REF: HARARE 617

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reason 1.4 d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) In their respective May Day campaigns, the Zimbabwe

Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) focused on poverty and taxes,

while the GOZ-sponsored Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions

(ZFTU) accused employers of purposefully causing shortages of

basic commodities to stir civil unrest. Even as the ZCTU

General Council voted down a proposal by four renegade union

leaders to change the ZCTU leadership, ZCTU Secretary General

Wellington Chibebe expressed fears that the GOZ may arrest

the entire leadership prior to the June ILO meeting in

Geneva. Meanwhile, the GOZ continues its attacks on the

ZCTU, with 12 activists arrested in the week preceding May

Day and continued GOZ-controlled newspaper articles calling

for leadership change at the ZCTU.

 

——————–

May Day Celebrations

——————–

 

2. (C) In a May 2 conversation with EconOff, Chibebe called

the ZCTU May Day rallies a success, with an estimated

10-15,000 attendees in Harare, 2000 in Bulawayo, and smaller

numbers in other towns throughout the country. Chibebe also

said that the crowd in Mutare shouted down renegade leaders

of four unions attempting to change the ZCTU leadership (Ref

A). According to Chibebe, ZCTU speakers focused on raising

wages above the poverty datum line (PDL), shifting tax

brackets to ensure those earning under the PDL paid no taxes,

and on GOZ accountability for AIDS levies and other levies on

salaries. In Bulawayo, he said Progressive Teachers, Union

of Zimbabwe General Secretary Raymond Majongwe had led the

rally and had denounced GOZ attempts to change ZCTU

leadership and had called upon workers to focus on real

issues and not GOZ gimmicks.

 

3. (C) According to press reports, during the much smaller

rival ZFTU May Day campaigns, President Alfred Makwarimba

called for the GOZ to arrest anyone selling goods above

gazetted prices, to exclude wage increases from inflation

calculations, and to ask workers to inform on employers

engaging in sabotage or hoarding to purposefully create

shortages. In a particularly Orwellian statement quoted

verbatim by the official Herald newspaper, he asked the GOZ

to &educate the nation (on) the meaning of the decline in

the inflation rate vis–vis the escalating cost of goods and

services in order for the workers to observe and appreciate

the incremental improvements in their lives.8 (N.B. May Day

was the first mention of the ZFTU — a largely failed GOZ

attempt to weaken ZCTU — in the GOZ-controlled press since

the fall of ZFTU Vice-President Joseph Chinotimba in the

December 2004 Tsholotsho debacle.)

 

—————————–

GOZ Continues ZCTU Crackdown

—————————–

 

4. (C) Although no ZCTU activists were arrested on May Day,

ZCTU Information Officer Mlamleli Sibanda confirmed press

reports that Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrested twelve

ZCTU activists in the preceding week. Six ZCTU officials

were arrested in Mutare on April 27 under the Public Order

and Security Act (POSA) and later released. (N.B. The ZCTU is

explicitly exempted from POSA.) In Harare on April 28, six

additional ZCTU activists were arrested and later released

while commemorating World Day for Safety and Health at Work

in a downtown Harare rally with public sector workers.

 

5. (C) On April 23, according to Majongwe, a strong majority

of the ZCTU General Council voted down a resolution from four

renegade union leaders to change the ZCTU leadership (Ref A).

Nonetheless, he confirmed that an internal ZCTU

investigation is continuing into the renegade leaders,

financial and other allegations. In addition, GOZ-controlled

newspapers continued their call for workers to &reclaim the

ZCTU from the political malcontents who hijacked it8 and to

seek &sincere leaders who are truly committed to improving

the welfare of the workers . . . and not just wage a

pointless defiance campaign that only worsens the plight of

workers.8

 

6. (C) On May 5, Chibebe told EconOff that he feared that a

Labor Ministry investigation could lead to the arrest of the

entire ZCTU leadership and GOZ-imposed new leaders prior to

the June ILO convention in Geneva. He also asserted that the

Chinese were funding the renegade unions as a favor to the

GOZ.

——–

COMMENT

——–

 

7. (C) Although this year,s celebrations were smaller than

in the past, the ZCTU,s ability to put on large-scale events

in the current climate of post-election repression can still

be considered a success. Moreover, the failure of renegade

unions to garner support from the General Council or the

crowd in Mutare also bodes well for the current ZCTU

leadership. Nonetheless, Chibebe,s fears may not be

misplaced. The GOZ is continuing its anti-ZCTU efforts and

financial and other allegations by the renegade unions could

still provide the ammunition the Labor Ministry needs to

interfere in internal ZCTU affairs. We are especially

concerned that former Minister for State Security Nicholas

Goche has been given the Labor portfolio in his new capacity

as Minister for Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare at

a time when the GOZ is clearly targeting one of the few

remaining independent mass-based organizations in Zimbabwe.

DELL

(172 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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