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A week of raids, arrests and mayhem

There was mayhem soon after the Movement for Democratic Change pulled out of government prompting party spokesman Nelson Chamisa to comment: “What we are seeing now was exactly how the violence began in the campaign for the presidential run-off elections between March and June last year. We are beginning to see the formation of another storm of violence.”

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE867, A WEEK OF RAIDS, ARRESTS, AND MAYHEM IN ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE867

2009-10-30 09:38

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4469

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0867/01 3030938

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 300938Z OCT 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5090

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3140

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3252

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1679

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2513

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2882

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3300

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5748

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2432

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000867

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2019

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: A WEEK OF RAIDS, ARRESTS, AND MAYHEM IN ZIMBABWE

 

REF: HARARE 864

 

Classified By: CDA Katherine S. Dhanani for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (U) Throughout the past week, Zimbabwe’s security forces

and likely ZANU-PF supporters have executed a series of

operations targeting the MDC and several local NGOs,

resulting in the arrest of seven people — five of whom were

subsequently released — the attempted abduction of an eighth

individual, a raid on an MDC house, an attempted break-in at

the home of an MDC minister, and the burning of 10,000 copies

of an MDC newsletter. MDC officials believe the raids,

arrests, and harassment are a backlash against the party’s

decision to disengage with ZANU-PF, and they warn of a

renewed wave of violence.

 

2. (U) As the arrests were being carried out, the UN Special

Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading

treatment, who had been invited by the government on a

fact-finding mission, was denied entry into Zimbabwe. END

SUMMARY.

 

———————–

Timeline of a Crackdown

———————–

 

3. (U) Friday, October 23: A heavily-armed force of

approximately 50 police officers raided a known MDC-T house

in the Chisipite suburb of Harare. The officers presented a

search warrant, claimed to be searching for an arms cache,

and forced the caretaker to dig throughout the property’s

yard. The police failed to discover any arms and refused to

leave the warrant, claiming that it had not yet been signed

by a supervisor. Earlier in the week, reports circulated

that 19 AK-47s and some other arms disappeared from an army

barracks in Harare.

 

4. (U) Saturday, October 24: Two Bulawayo MDC-T

parliamentarians were arrested at a roadblock in Bulawayo and

detained overnight at Bulawayo Central Police Station.

According to the MDC-T, the police alleged that the MPs )-

Reggie Moyo and Albert Mhlanga )- were ferrying ammunition

stolen from Pomona Barracks in Harare.

 

5. (U) Saturday, October 24: Local ZANU-PF officials seized

and burnt over 10,000 copies of the recently-released

“Changing Times” MDC newsletter in Bindura in Mashonaland

Central province. Several MDC officials confirmed the

incident and said that four employees of the ZANU-PF-led

Bindura city council were responsible for their destruction.

 

6. (U) Sunday, October 25: National Association of NGOs

(NANGO) Board Chairwoman Dadirai Chikwengo and Chief

Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe were arrested at the

A’Zimbabwe hotel in Victoria Falls for holding a political

meeting without notifying the police. The arrests occurred

immediately after the conclusion of NANGO’s annual conference

for NGO directors, which was attended by 120 NGO Directors

and the Minister of Labor, Paurina Gwanyanya (MDC-T). The

two were arrested after Minister Gwanyanya left the hotel and

as NGO directors were boarding buses to return to Harare. On

October 27, they were formally charged with contravening the

QOctober 27, they were formally charged with contravening the

Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and released on bail.

 

7. (U) Tuesday, October 27: Four armed men attempted to

kidnap Edith Mashaire, an MDC-T security administrator, while

she was walking through a Harare shopping mall on her way to

 

HARARE 00000867 002 OF 003

 

 

work that morning. According to Mashaire, three of the men

carried AK-47 rifles and the fourth held a pistol. The men

attempted to wrestle her into a twin-cab Isuzu truck, but

Mashaire escaped after screaming for help.

 

8. (U) Tuesday, October 27: MDC Transport Manager, Pascal

Gwezere, was arrested by six armed men driving a grey Isuzu

truck. The incident occurred at 6:45 p.m. after Gwezere

arrived at his home in Harare. According to an MDC press

release, the men returned the following day, confiscated the

cell phone of his wife, and informed her that he was being

held at Marimba Police Station.

 

9. (U) Wednesday, October 28: Ndodhana Ndhlovu and Thulani

Ndhlovu of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) were

arrested in Dete, a small town in Matabeleland North, for

conducting a public outreach workshop without police

clearance. The workshop was attended by about 50

participants and local Chief Nelukoba. Ndodhana was

subsequently released without charge, but Thulani was charged

and remains in custody. The arrests led ZESN to cancel

another workshop scheduled for October 29 in the same

province.

 

10. (U) Wednesday, October 28: A group of men attempted to

break into the home of Prime Minister Tsvangirai aide Gorden

Moyo. Moyo, a Cabinet minister serving in the PM’s office,

said that they attempted to force their way into the house,

broke some windows, and left after he threatened to shoot.

 

11. (C) Wednesday, October 28: The director of the

Counseling Services Unit, an NGO that provides medical care

for victims of torture and human rights abuses, told us that

her office has been monitored almost continuously throughout

the week by police Superintendent Peter Magwenzi. Magwenzi

is well-known to civil society activists and has been

involved in numerous political cases. Last year he was

complicit in the abductions of Jestina Mukoko and other civil

society activists.

 

———————————————

Meanwhile, UN Envoy Denied Entry and Deported

———————————————

 

12. (U) On October 28, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture

and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Manfred

Nowak, was denied entry into Zimbabwe at Harare International

Airport (reftel). Nowak, who was scheduled to come to

Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission, was told on October 26

that the government was rescinding its invitation because it

was preoccupied with the SADC Troika visit. Prime Minister

Morgan Tsvangirai then invited him for a meeting on October

29. When Nowak arrived at the airport, security officials

told him that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not granted

clearance for the meeting and refused him entry to Zimbabwe

despite the letter Nowak presented from the Prime Minister.

Nowak spent the night at the airport before he was returned

to South Africa on October 29. Nowak spoke to the press upon

Qto South Africa on October 29. Nowak spoke to the press upon

his return and denounced his treatment as “a very alarming

signal about the power structure of the present government.”

 

13. (U) MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa reiterated Nowak’s

sentiments and said, “What we are seeing now was exactly how

the violence began in the campaign for the presidential

run-off elections between March and June last year. We are

beginning to see the formation of another storm of violence.”

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

 

HARARE 00000867 003 OF 003

 

 

14. (C) These arrests and detentions are reminiscent of

tactics used last year when State security agents targeted

middle and low ranking MDC officials and NGOs to intimidate

the party and their supporters in the lead-up to the June

2008 presidential run-off. While it is too early to make a

similar determination, it is apparent that ZANU-PF is turning

up the heat on the MDC. These actions and an intensification

of anti-MDC rhetoric in the State media signal that ZANU-PF

is once again treating the MDC as an opposition party rather

than a partner in government. END COMMENT.

 

DHANANI

(6 VIEWS)

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