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Ambassador said Zimbabweans are notoriously patient

 

4. (C)   On the issue of police reaction, Mudzingwa said

that they were confident that the majority were now either

sympathetic to the MDC position or determined to remain

neutral if at all possible. He was somewhat concerned about

a few special units who have apparently received riot

training since March or that existing unit commanders would

be replaced by GOZ militants, possibly war veterans.

Mudzingwa said he thought the MDC's propaganda aimed at the

army, as well as private conversations with selected army

officers, had worked and that the greater part of the army

was inclined to remain neutral – though all uncertainties on

this front had not been eliminated. On the whole however, he

believed that the MDC strategy would avoid confrontations by

assembling and disbursing too quickly for the GOZ forces to

be a problem.

 

5. (C)   Comment: In theory Mudzingwa's plan sounds viable

but it relies heavily on very good organization and

communication, and the willingness of sympathetic police and

local authorities to remain apolitical even if they get

advance notice that a demonstration is imminent. Its

avoidance of marching/demonstrations near State House or city

center would be less neuralgic to authorities. The plan also

relies on holding demonstrations in distant locales and

spreading militant security forces too thin to respond

effectively. Word travels fast though, and a harsh crackdown

in one suburb could quell peoples' willingness to take to the

streets in others. The MDC has a very limited track record

of getting people to march, and it is unclear whether general

frustration and desperation is enough to make notoriously

patient Zimbabweans take to the streets in huge numbers.

 

6. (C) In light of the fact that to date Mudzingwa, though

very well-placed in the MDC hierarchy, is the only source to

report any action is planned before Monday, Embassy observers

remain skeptical that any major events will take place over

the weekend. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

(28 VIEWS)

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