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CSU and MDC differed on people killed during election violence

There was confusion as to how many people died because of the violence in the run-up to the presidential election run-off with the Counselling Services Unit saying 154 people died between 29 March and 19 July 2008.

The Movement for Democratic Change said 162 people died between29 March and 29 July.

MDC Welfare Secretary Kerry Kay had her own figure. She told diplomats on 22 July that police had told the MDC that between 350 and 400 people had been killed but they were quickly buried without witnesses.

The MDC also reported on 29 July that at least five women had been raped since June 27, including one who was raped 18 different times.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE652, VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN AREAS; ACCESS TO MEDICAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE652

2008-08-01 11:29

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO1187

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0652/01 2141129

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 011129Z AUG 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3242

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2190

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2309

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0841

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1586

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1944

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2365

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4796

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1455

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000652

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR G. GARLAND

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: VIOLENCE CONTINUES IN AREAS; ACCESS TO MEDICAL

CARE DENIED

 

REF: HARARE 606

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4(d).

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) While the prevalence of violence in Zimbabwe has

fallen since the June 27 one-man runoff election, violence

against MDC members and leaders continues, particularly in

some rural areas, and victims continue to experience

significant and growing delays accessing medical treatment.

Because of this delay – an average of 19 days in July for

victims living outside Harare – and the ongoing ban on NGOs’

field activities, it is difficult to assess the real-time

occurrence of violence. An independent NGO, Counseling

Services Unit (CSU), has confirmed 154 deaths ince the March

29 election. The Movement for Deocratic Change (MDC)

believes hundreds more have ied but are not included in

these confirmed numbrs because local authorities have not

been allowd to conduct autopsies or write the true cause of

death on death certificates. In recent weeks, prss reports

of rape have grabbed headlines and there are verified cases,

including gang rape by soliers, but Zimbabweans who track

violence believerape has not been widespread and systematic,

Whle a cessation of violence was one of the MDC’s

pre-conditions for talks between the MDC and ZANU-PF, we

believe violence, albeit at a reduced level, is ongoing.

This may be in part because of absence of effective central

government control in rural areas. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————–

Ongoing violence violates MOU

—————————–

 

2. (U) On July 21, Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF and the leaders

of both MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara,

signed a Memorandum of Understand (MOU) laying out guidelines

for talks to resolve the ongoing political crisis in

Zimbabwe. In the MOU, “security of persons and prevention of

violence” is one of the main topics. In addition, they

agreed that, as an interim measure, “(a) Each Party will

issue a statement condemning the promotion and use of

violence and call for peace in the country and shall take all

measures necessary to ensure that the structures and

institutions it controls are not engaged in the perpetration

of violence. (b) The Parties are committed to ensuring that

the law is fairly and justly applied to all persons

irrespective of political affiliation. (c) The parties will

take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of

political violence, including by non-state actors, and to

ensure the security of persons and property. (d) The Parties

agree that, in the interim, they will work together to ensure

the safety of any displaced persons and their safe return

home and that humanitarian and social welfare organizations

are enabled to render such assistance as might be required.”

 

——————————————— ——–

Violence reduced, but still above pre-election levels

——————————————— ——–

 

3. (SBU) CSU is a local NGO that treats victims and tracks

statistics according to strict verification criteria. Before

the March 29 elections, CSU medical staff saw an average of

60 violence victims per week. At the peak of violence in May

and June, they saw 100 per day. Since June 27, they continue

to see about 60 per day — thirty times the number before the

elections. As of July 19, they had treated 675 new cases in

July, but only 54 were actually injured in July. In June,

the severity of injury decreased from May. However, in July

 

HARARE 00000652 002 OF 003

 

 

the prevalence of severe and life threatening cases rose —

possibly because of the increased delay in accessing medical

care. In June, for injuries occurring outside Harare, the

average delay was 14 days; the delay grew to 19 days in July.

(NOTE: A delay for victims who are beaten on the buttocks,

a common occurrence, is significant; the wounds often close

and become infected. If the infection spreads, it can lead

to serious kidney damage. END NOTE.)

 

4. (C) CSU reported a total of 154 deaths between March 29

and July 19, and MDC data claims a confirmed total of 162

deaths between March 29 and July 29. They report that while

31 have died since the June 27 election, most of these were

from injuries inflicted before June 27. In some areas,

hospital officials have reportedly been threatened if they

report the true cause of death on the death certificate.

Because these deaths and their cause cannot be confirmed,

they are not included in statistics published by either CSU

or MDC. (NOTE: CSU’s and MDC’s confirmed numbers differ

because CSU’s standards of confirmation are more stringent

than those of the MDC. CSU requires first-hand medical

verification. END NOTE.) Additionally, MDC Welfare

Secretary Kerry Kay, in a briefing with diplomats on July 22,

said police had told the MDC that at least 350-400 had been

killed during this approximate time period, but they were

buried quickly and without witnesses.

 

5. (SBU) MDC also reported on July 29 that at least five

women had been raped since June 27, including one who was

raped 18 different times. Some rapes have occurred at

militia bases by both youth militia and Zimbabwean military.

CSU has treated some, but very few, rape victims. (NOTE:

Rape is a highly sensitive subject culturally, and is

severely under-reported. END NOTE.) While some of these

incidents have received extensive coverage, Zimbabweans who

track violence have told us that rape is neither systematic

nor widespread.

 

—————————————-

Paying goats to atone for political sins

—————————————-

 

6. (C) While violence appears to have subsided there are

still pockets of ongoing violence directed at the MDC. In

her July 22 briefing, Kay reported that MDC believed 55

ZANU-PF bases were still operational in Manicaland and

Masvingo provinces. These bases are being used by military

officials and/or ZANU-PF youths to interrogate and punish

returning MDC supporters. In some villages, victims have

been forced to pay fines in cash or livestock before they are

allowed to return home. One civil society leader’s parents

were forced to give one of their best cows to ZANU-PF

militias who said their son was “causing a lot of trouble.”

 

7. (SBU) Buhera in Manicaland province and Gokwe in Midlands

province continue to be two of the “hottest” areas in

Zimbabwe for violence and are “no go” areas for the MDC.

Several villages in Buhera and Gokwe have reportedly held

ZANU-PF “celebration” rallies where MDC supporters have been

beaten and subsequently denied access to medical care. Two

MDC activists were reportedly abducted at gunpoint in Buhera

on July 24 by Colonel Morgan Muzilikazi. The activists were

attempting to transport 17 victims – who had been beaten by

ZANU-PF thugs on July 17 – to Mutare for medical attention.

The vehicle was taken by force and the 17 injured people are

still in Buhera and have not received medical attention. In

Gokwe, at least a dozen MDC members were beaten and then

denied treatment at the local hospital. MDC spent days

organizing vehicles to retrieve the victims and bring them to

Harare for attention.

 

 

HARARE 00000652 003 OF 003

 

 

8. (SBU) On Saturday, July 19, two days before the MOU was

signed, ZANU-PF militia seriously beat two MDC youths with

sticks at Chikoko militia base in Mudzi in Mashonaland East

province. The youths were held overnight, beaten again and

then released. The youths were only able to receive

treatment in Harare on July 29. Also in Mudzi, a policeman,

Kingsley Muteta, was beaten by twelve ZANU-PF youths on July

17; he died in Harare on July 27 from his injuries. Muteta

was in Mudzi to visit his mother. He confronted the militia

after learning that she had been beaten while attending his

MDC-affiliated brother-in-law’s funeral. His brother-in-law

had died from injuries sustained by the militia.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) The ongoing violence could be seen as demonstrating

that Mugabe and ZANU-PF are deliberately continuing the

campaign of violence and intimidation in rural areas, that

they cannot control the violence in rural areas, or, most

likely, a combination of both. With cessation of violence an

agreed-upon condition for ZANU-PF-MDC negotiations

continuation of talks, it is unclear how much the MDC will be

willing to tolerate. We will continue to monitor and gather

information on violence. However, with little international

presence in rural areas, and the significant delays accessing

medical care, it is difficult to know what is happening in

real time across the country. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(13 VIEWS)

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