Demonstrations increased but no impact


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Demonstrations by the National Constitutional Assembly to pressure the government for a more democratic constitution increased after the 2002 presidential elections but one political analyst said they had little impact because they were not properly coordinated.

NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the demonstrations that had been organised in five cities had attracted on average 250-300 people at each gathering with Harare alone having six such demonstration centres.

According to the United States embassy the NCA was an umbrella organisation of 104 civic organisations comprising members from all over the country working for constitutional reform.

The United States provided some funding to the NCA.

Brian Raftopoulos, who was coordinator of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition at the time, said although the NCA was able to increase the numbers for these demonstrations, alone they were unlikely to have much effect.

He said “the people” had not yet taken ownership of the NCA’s demonstrations.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE2782, DEMONSTRATIONS INCREASE – NOT CRITICAL MASS YET

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

02HARARE2782

2002-12-09 15:40

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 HARARE 002782

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2012

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: DEMONSTRATIONS INCREASE – NOT CRITICAL MASS YET

 

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

——–

1. (U) On November 30 the National Constitutional Assembly

(NCA) staged demonstrations in five cities to pressure the

GOZ for a more democratic constitution. Police arrested NCA

staff members and demonstrators, seized demonstration

materials and denied permission for the march in a sixth

city. A well-respected political analyst said these

bi-weekly demonstrations are unlikely to be effective unless

they are coordinated with other civic organizations and

initiatives, and we would agree. End Summary.

 

2. (U) On November 30 the National Constitutional Assembly

(NCA), an umbrella organization of 104 civic organizations

comprising members from all over the country working for

constitutional reform, staged 3-hour demonstration marches in

Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, and Gweru to pressure the GOZ for a

more democratic constitution. According to an NCA spokesman,

a demonstration was also planned for Masvingo, but police

refused to permit that march.

 

Police Response

—————

3. (U) One day before the event, armed with a search warrant,

police raided NCA offices in Harare and arrested seventeen

NCA staff members including acting National Coordinator,

Ernest Mudzenge, and acting Information Officer, Tsitsi

Mutongi. During the raid, police confiscated lists of NCA

committee members with phone numbers, financial records,

banners, t-shirts, pamphlets and other march materials. Five

people were also arrested during the march in Bulawayo. Riot

police dispersed demonstrators in Mabvuku and Mbare West in

Harare, and also at the demonstrations in Bulawayo and

Mutare, but in other places the marches proceeded without

incident.

 

Numbers Involved

—————-

4. (U) According to NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, 250 – 300

people attended each of the demonstrations in Highfield,

Zengeza, Kuwadzana, Glen Norah, Mabvuku and Mbare (all

suburbs of Harare), and Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru. NCA has

been holding bi-weekly demonstrations in selected areas for

the past year generally involving about 150 – 200 people, and

plans to continue to organize them. (Note: One NCA estimate

puts the number of participants at 8000 nationwide for this

latest march, but 2500 is a more likely estimate. End Note.)

 

Need to Coordinate Efforts

————————–

5. (U) According to Brian Raftopoulos, Coordinator of the

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and a well-respected political

analyst, although NCA was able to increase the numbers for

these demonstrations, alone they are unlikely to have much

effect. He said “the people” have not yet taken ownership of

NCA’s demonstrations, and the effort is too narrow.

Raftopoulos, whose Crisis group is sponsoring a major

conference with churches and civic groups in Bulawayo on

December 14 to discuss land reform, governance, human rights,

justice, HIV, and regional solidarity, recommended that NCA

coordinate its demonstrations with the efforts and issues of

other civic groups to support a broader approach to problems

in Zimbabwe. He said this was the only way to be effective.

 

Comment:

——–

6. (C) Although NCA’s demonstrations may have involved a

total of 2-3000 people, we are inclined to agree with

Raftopoulos’ assessment that “the people” have not taken

ownership of them yet. Other civic leaders have suggested

that public confrontations with government are forthcoming,

but our sense is that the anger of most Zimbabweans at their

government is currently outweighed by the day-to-day need to

put food on the table, coupled with the fear of retribution.

The success of a national stayaway planned for December 10 by

the NCA and other civic groups, in conjunction with the MDC,

will be a revealing test of whether Zimbabweans have

concluded that confrontation with the GOZ and its security

forces is the only means of changing their lives for the

better. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

(3 VIEWS)

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