Charles Mutama, who only two months earlier had told United States embassy officials about his arrest and torture by central intelligence organisation operatives, said the Movement for Democratic Change was planning a series of bomb attacks on police stations, militia bases, and ZANU-PF-owned shops and gas stations in five cities around the country.
Mutama, who described himself as the Harare regional coordinator for intelligence for the MDC, said he had identified 41 police stations and several businesses from a list of ZANU-PF-owned businesses supplied by the MDC Information Department.
He said one of the targets was a gas station in Highfield owned by former Harare mayor Solomon Tawengwa and a slew of Exor gas stations in the Harare area owned by Saviour Kasukuwere.
Mutama said the goal of the activities was to pressure the government to hold fresh elections, to re-open negotiations with the MDC leadership, and to galvanise the public behind the MDC.
He said he thought the MDC leadership was motivated to plan such activities by recent press reports criticising Morgan Tsvangirai for taking an ineffective armchair approach in comparison to the more confrontational approach of National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku, Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri, and maverick MDC MP Job Sikhala.
Although embassy officials doubted Mutama’s plans, they described him as a long-time contact.
Viewing cable 03HARARE516, BOMB ATTACKS PLANNED: LOW-LEVEL MDC INTELLIGENCE
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000516
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2013
SUBJECT: BOMB ATTACKS PLANNED: LOW-LEVEL MDC INTELLIGENCE
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (S) Charles Mutama, Harare regional coordinator for
intelligence for the MDC, reported to Poloff that the
Security, Intelligence, and Youth branches of the MDC are
planning bomb attacks on police stations, militia bases, and
ZANU-PF-owned shops and gas stations in five cities around
the country in the coming weeks. While Mutama has in the
past been a reliable source, we have no independent
confirmation that the MDC leadership authorizes the plan, and
no information on the capability of anyone in the MDC to
execute such attacks. End Summary.
¶2. (S) Charles Mutama, who identifies himself as Harare
regional coordinator for intelligence for the MDC, reported
to Poloff today that the Security, Intelligence, and Youth
branches of the MDC are planning dynamite and petrol bomb
attacks on police stations, militia bases, and ZANU-PF-owned
shops and gas stations in five cities around the country in
the coming weeks.
¶3. (S) Mutama, who has been known to the Political Section
for some time, was recruited into the MDC from the student
movement in 2000, along with MP Job Sikhala. He said he
received training in Uganda around that time, but did not
describe the training. He was tortured along with Job
Sikhala on January 14–the resulting burns and scars are
still visible. Mutama said he reports to the number two in
MDC Intelligence, who in turn reports to MDC Intelligence
Head Solomon Chikowero. He said Chikowero was briefing MDC
Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire on the planned
Call to Action Misinterpreted as Call to Attack ?
¶4. (S) We have heard from a variety of MDC sources that there
are plans to organize mass action for as early as March 13,
but more likely about two weeks later due to incomplete
planning. Mutama said that the Intelligence, Security, and
Youth branches are interpreting the call to mass action as a
call for confrontational activities such as attacking the
types of targets listed above. His particular role was to
identify targets in Harare. He said that plans for the
Harare activities were incomplete, but in good shape, however
he was not sure of the status of plans for attacks in
Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo.
Targets Identified but Plans Incomplete
¶5. (S) He said he had identified 41 police stations, several
businesses from a list of ZANU-PF-owned businesses supplied
by the MDC Information Department, including several gas
stations in Harare owned by ZANU-PF officials. He mentioned
that the planning for attacks on most police stations in the
Harare area were in good shape except for several police
stations in the low-density suburbs, as MDC youths were not
well represented in those areas. He mentioned specifically
that a gas station in Harare suburb of Highfield owned by
ZANU-PF former Harare mayor Solomon Tawengwa, and a slew of
Exor gas stations in the Harare area owned by ZANU-PF MP
Savior Kasukuwere, were on the list, as well as other ZANU-PF
owned shops. He also mentioned that employees of the Tel-One
central telephone switch house on Samora Machel Ave. and 2nd
Street in downtown Harare had identified phone circuits
associated with police stations and senior ZANU-PF officials,
and would disable those circuits at a critical moment. He
said that most of the more senior people involved in the
planning had police or military backgrounds, but that the
actual attacks would be carried out by MDC youths.
¶6. (S) He commented that while plans were well underway,
preparations were nevertheless incomplete, or at least he was
unaware of all the details. He said he thought the MDC
leadership planning the attacks had not thought through the
whole scenario very well; for example, he anticipated there
would be reprisals by GOZ authorities, but no one had
suggested a plan for dealing with those. He said the goal of
the activities was to pressure the GOZ to hold fresh
elections, to re-open negotiations with the MDC leadership,
and to galvanize the public behind the MDC. He said he
thought the MDC leadership was motivated to plan such
activities by recent press reports criticizing Morgan
Tsvangirai for taking an ineffective armchair approach in
comparison to the more confrontational approach of National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Director Lovemore Madhuku,
Harare MDC Mayor Elias Mudzuri, and maverick MDC MP Job
USG Would Not Condone Violence
¶7. (S) Poloff responded that the Embassy and USG would not
support any violent activities, that such activities would
not motivate the GOZ to re-open negotiations with the MDC and
instead would most likely justify a violent crackdown against
the party. Poloff said the Embassy would support peaceful
mass action involving as many Zimbabweans as possible, and
that this represents the democratic process. Violent actions
by a few individuals does not represent democracy, would
jeopardize all that the MDC stood for, and was a bad idea.
Mutama responded that while he was involved in the planning,
he didn’t think he could head off the initiative, which he
suggested had wide appeal.
¶8. (S) Mutama is a longtime Embassy contact who called on
Poloff to ask his advice on whether he should accept an
invitation to go to South Africa for torture counseling at
this critical moment. Poloff’s questions about why the
moment was critical lead to Mutama revealing the above.
¶9. (S) Mutama is a fairly low-level MDC official, but
nevertheless levelheaded and soft-spoken, almost bookish. He
is not one of the ones who would actually carry out the
attacks, but his sincerity suggests he is describing a
planning process that is actually under discussion. We are
aware that he may be testing the waters for this plan on
behalf of either the CIO (in the wake of his torture) or the
MDC, and will make discreet inquiries as to his legitimacy.
It is very likely that some members of the MDC are frustrated
and angry and would like to bomb ZANU-PF facilities, but we
have no independent confirmation that the MDC leadership
authorizes the plan. We also doubt that the MDC is actually
capable of executing such attacks, especially on the scale
that Mutama described. Similar past warnings by anti-Mugabe
individuals that violent anti-government actions were
imminent have not panned out. We are dubious that this one
will either, but will continue to follow this threat as
closely as discretion permits and will urge the MDC at
multiple levels not to engage in violent acts. End Comment.