ZCTU’s Chibebe asked for US assistance to attend IOL conference


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The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Wellington Chibebe asked for assistance from the United States embassy in Harare to enable him to attend the International Labour Conference in 2002 and also for US assistance to mobilise support for the ZCTU’s official delegate status.

Chibebe was afraid that the government might sponsor the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, which was said to be government-sponsored to attend the conference. The main player in the ZFTU at the time was its vice-President Joseph Chinotimba.

Chibebe was concerned that politics might win the day and that ZFTU may prevail in an accreditation fight.

The embassy said it would investigate ways of sponsoring Chibebe and ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo and recommended that their travel be sponsored by Solidarity Centre.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE1183, ZCTU’S BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL AT THE UPCOMING ILO

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1183

2002-05-17 09:46

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 001183

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AFIS AND DRL/IL, NSC FOR SENIOR AF DIRECTOR

FRAZER, LONDON FOR CGURNEY, PARIS FOR CNEARY, NAIROBI FOR

PFLAUMER, BRUSSELS FOR USEU:WAGNER, GENEVA FOR HAGEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2012

TAGS: ELAB PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZCTU’S BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL AT THE UPCOMING ILO

CONFERENCE

 

Classified By: Classified by KRBel for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) This is an action request — see paragraph 6.

 

2. (C) Summary. LABOFF met May 15 with Wellington Chibebe of

the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Chibebe

expressed concern that the GOZ would use the upcoming ILO

conference in Geneva as another forum in which to attack the

legitimacy of his organization. Chibebe requested assistance

to enable him to attend the conference along with ZCTU

President Lovemore Matombo (Matombo’s travel costs have

already been covered). Additionally, Chibebe requested our

assistance in mobilizing support for ZCTU’s official delegate

status should the GOZ attempt to appoint as the “official”

Zimbabwean labor delegate another labor organization it

created to counter the ZCTU’s broad influence. End summary.

 

3. (C) In the course of a meeting with Laboff, Wellington

Chibebe, Secretary General of the ZCTU, stated that he has

been informed that both ZCTU and the GOZ-sponsored Zimbabwe

Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) would be allowed by the GOZ

to travel to Geneva for the upcoming ILO congress. The ZFTU

is a shell organization created by ZANU-PF/GOZ as a more

controllable counterpart to the legitimate ZCTU. The ZFTU

has used strong-arm tactics against employers to convince

workers to join up, but thus far the only group with

widescale membership in the ZFTU is the sugar plantation

workers. Within that industry, the GOZ has reportedly

pressured the employers while the ZFTU has coerced the

workers, with the result being a mass shift of workers’

allegiance (as well as their membership dues) from the

ZCTU-affiliated sugar workers’ union to the ZFTU. While the

true size of the organization as well as its leadership is

unclear, “war vet” Joseph Chinotimba, self-proclaimed

commander of the farm invasions and ZANU-PF’s chief worker

bee and enforcer, is the ZFTU’s vice president.

 

4. (C) The GOZ has not yet indicated which organization will

receive government appointment as the official Zimbabwean

delegation, and Chibebe believes that the GOZ may postpone

announcing its intentions until the last possible minute.

Chibebe’s concern is that the GOZ may well appoint the ZFTU

as the official delegation while relegating the ZCTU to an

“advisory” role. If this happens, the ZCTU will dispute the

appointment and the matter will go to the ILO Accreditation

Committee, which is chaired by Benin. Chibebe is concerned

that politics may win the day and that ZFTU may prevail in an

accreditation fight. Late reports on May 17 indicate that

the GOZ intends to invite both ZCTU and ZFTU to the Geneva

meeting as if they had equal status.

 

5. (C) Post is already investigating possible means of

sponsoring Chibebe to attend the conference along with ZCTU

president Lovemore Matombo, whose attendance has already been

funded by other sponsors. However, ZCTU is under severe

financial pressure and does not have the money to send

Chibebe outright. Chibebe can offer vital assistance by

lobbying for support for the ZCTU among the other delegates,

in the event that such a showdown develops. Further, even if

such a struggle does not develop, Chibebe’s attendance will

enhance his international profile and confirm the USG’s

support for the ZCTU.

 

6. (C) Action requested: Post recommends that Solidarity

Center be contacted to sponsor Chibebe’s travel to the ILO

meeting. Post also recommends that the Department and/or DOL

approach other international labor groupings and delegates to

solicit their support that the ZCTU be recognized as

Zimbabwe’s official delegation. In addition to weighing in

with the ICFTU, it will be important to address our concerns

to other national and regional labor organizations. As

Chibebe noted, Mugabe is willing to play the “race card”

without compunction, and pressure from a western labor group

alone could play into Mugabe’s “African unity” rhetoric.

Other groups which could be approached include WCL, SATUCC,

ICFTU-Afro, OAUTU (Organization of African Unity Trade

Unions), and COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions).

 

7. (C) Suggested talking points:

 

— We understand the GOZ may be planning to accredit the

ZFTU, an organization created by and controlled by the

Zimbabwean government and ZANU-PF, at the upcoming

International Labor Congress. This would relegate the ZCTU,

the ILO-accredited representative of Zimbabwean labor, an

affiliate of the ICFTU and the legitimate representative of

the vast majority of Zimbabwean workers, to an “advisory”

role.

 

— Such an outcome would be a violation of the principles of

democratically free trade unionism which the ILO supports.

 

— Such an action would also indicate the desire of the

Zimbabwean government to bring the Zimbabwean labor movement

under government/party control and to impose political

retribution on the ZCTU and its members for allegedly

opposing Mugabe and Zanu-PF in the recent flawed presidential

elections.

 

— The USG supports the ZCTU’s effort to retain its

legitimate seat in the International Labor Congress and to

reject efforts to designate a government-puppet labor

organization as a labor federation with full ILO recognition.

 

 

— We urge the ICFTU (or insert appropriate other

organization) to back official accreditation of the ZCTU in

the ILO as well and to urge its affiliates to stand behind

the ZCTU as the legitimate representation of organized labor

in Zimbabwe.

 

End suggested points.

SULLIVAN

(3 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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