For unions, Zimbabwe is still not (quite) free

I'm just returning from a three day TUC delegation to Zimbabwe where we found a mixture of optimism and caution. Ben, the editor of The Worker, paper of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, told us he was recently arrested when he went to protest about the jailing of his reporter, whose crime was to photograph a demosntration by striking workers. The police told him 'if you keep reporting these things, then you will disappear. Political violence is still all too common in the countryside, and MDC Members of Parliament have been arrested on trumped up charges. But the economy has improved hugely as a result of abandoning the Zim dollar for its US counterpart, because the Central Bank can't print money at will. And that also means that Mugabe's cronies can't pay themselves ever increasing sums of cash. Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono - Mugabe's chief crony - is arguing for a return to the currency he turned into the second most devalued in world history, but he has few people on side.The ZCTU leaders we met, and the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai - formerly the ZCTU General Secretary himself - are optimistic. They have to be.Owen Tudor

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