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Funeral of MDC activist postponed because leaders were in hospital

The funeral of a Movement for Democratic Change activist, Gift Tandare, who was killed by the police, had to be postponed because most of the leaders of the party including leader Morgan Tsvangirai were in hospital after being beaten by police.

Also in hospital were party secretary general Tendai Biti and spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

The most seriously injured activist was MP Sekai Holland who underwent surgery as the result of multiple fractures. Deputy secretary for foreign affairs Grace Kwinjeh was beaten over much of her body and her ear was nearly severed while deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma had a badly damaged leg.

National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku was also nursing a broken arm and deep gashes on his head.

The MDC members were receiving legal aid and medical care from Counselling Services Unit.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE213, FUNERAL MARCH DELAYED TO LET LEADERS RECOVER,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE213

2007-03-15 14:43

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6502

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0213/01 0741443

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 151443Z MAR 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1245

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1515

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1373

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1519

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0195

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0781

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1145

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1574

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3978

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1342

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2002

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1736

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000213

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2017

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: FUNERAL MARCH DELAYED TO LET LEADERS RECOVER,

COUNTRY REMAINS TENSE

 

REF: REFTEL: HARARE 204 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) MDC leaders have been forced to postpone the wake and

funerary march for the MDC activist killed by police to allow

Morgan Tsvangirai to participate and resolve logistical

issues. They hope to finalize plans tomorrow. Tsvangirai

remains at Avenues Hospital, where the Ambassador visited him

and other injured activists today; doctors expect to

discharge him tomorrow. Continuing police violence has

sparked spontaneous protests throughout the country. End

Summary.

 

————————–

Activist’s Funeral Delayed

————————–

 

2. (C) MDC sources originally told us the funeral for slain

MDC activist Gift Tandare was scheduled for March 17, but

Tsvangirai’s continued treatment in hospital, efforts to

 

SIPDIS

locate a pathologist to examine the deceased’s body, and

other logistical issues will likely push back this timeline.

These sources told us opposition leaders intend to meet

tomorrow to finalize the schedule.

 

3. (C) The Ambassador and DCM visited Tsvangirai and the

others remaining in hospital March 15 to wish them well.

Pro-Senate MDC leader Arthur Mutambara, who was also visiting

Tsvangirai, told the Ambassador that the MDC factions planned

 

SIPDIS

to hold a joint press conference on March 16. Mutambara

noted that the shared suffering had brought the two factions

closer together and that they were now working together “in

the trenches.”

 

——————————

Injured Making Steady Progress

——————————

 

4. (SBU) The Ambassador spent five minutes with Tsvangirai

whom he found a bit groggy, but recovering from his injuries

and in good spirits. Tsvangirai said his doctors had decided

to keep him under observation for another 24 hours but

expected to release him tomorrow. The Ambassador also

greeted National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore

Madhuku as he was released from hospital to nurse a broken

arm and deep gashes on his head at home. Madhuku, who was

received by a throng of NCA members, was also in good

spirits. In the afternoon, MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti

and MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa were released, leaving eight

at the hospital recovering.

 

5. (SBU) Representatives from Counseling Services Unit,

which is providing legal and medical care for the MDC

members, told us the most seriously injured activist was

anti-Senate MDC MP Sekai Holland. Hospital officials told us

that the 64-year old underwent surgery as the result of

multiple fractures today and was recovering well. Also in

serious condition were MDC deputy secretary for foreign

affairs Grace Kwinjeh, who was beaten over much of her body

and whose ear was nearly severed, and MDC deputy treasurer

Elton Mangoma, whose leg was badly damaged.

 

————————

 

HARARE 00000213 002 OF 003

 

 

Urban Centers Flaring Up

————————

 

6. (SBU) The savage treatment of the opposition leaders at

the hands of police has triggered seemingly spontaneous

demonstrations in several cities. On March 12, MDC activists

marched from party headquarters in Mutare to protest the

ill-treatment of their leaders in Harare, according to human

rights lawyer Trust Manda. Manda told us that police

arrested 62 demonstrators who were subsequently granted bail

on March 14.

 

7. (SBU) Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyer

Tafadzwa Mugabe told us that late last night police in

Bulawayo arrested Sam Sipepa Nkomo, the former editor of the

banned Daily News, on suspicion of organizing a march.

According to Mugabe, on March 13, eight opposition

supporters, including MDC MP Amos Chibaya, were arrested in

Gweru for gathering at the MP’s house. He also informed us

that some MDC supporters were arrested in Kwekwe on March 14.

Mugabe noted that details of demonstrations and arrests

throughout the country were sketchy, but he believed protests

taking place outside of Harare were spontaneous as all of the

opposition leadership was either in hospital or attending to

those in hospital.

 

8. (SBU) Further fueling popular discontent, police have

been beating and in some cases arresting small groups of

people gathered together, apparently to forestall possible

demonstrations. Lawyer Manda told us, for example, that 16

people were arrested in Mutare on Monday walking to work with

friends. In Harare, police have entered bars in the

high-density suburbs at night, beat and arbitrarily arrested

patrons, and then closed down the bars.

 

9. (U) Meanwhile, the state-controlled Herald newspaper on

March 15 reported that a police station in Harare and one in

Gweru had been firebombed on the night of March 13. They

portrayed the attacks as evidence of MDC violence and

splashed graphic photos of the alleged victims across the

front page of the Herald.

 

10. (SBU) A British Embassy security officer who was

formerly an officer in the Zimbabwe Republic Police told us

that off duty police officers are now afraid to wear their

uniforms in their neighborhoods for fear of being attacked,

especially at night. He added that the discontent and unease

among his former colleagues, especially the long-term

professionals, was on the rise.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

11. (C) The decision to postpone for now Tandare’s funeral

may give things a chance to calm down over the coming

weekend. Still, neither side appears ready to back down and

the funeral could still prove a flash point. We plan to

assemble as many diplomats as possible at the event to try to

forestall police violence. The reports of spontaneous

demonstrations around the country are evidence that the

government may be starting to lose control of the situation.

They have neither the manpower nor the resources needed to

suppress all of these demonstrations. The fact that violence

may now be directed at the police themselves is regrettable

but not necessarily surprising. The people are fighting back

and the police are the nearest government representatives at

hand.

 

HARARE 00000213 003 OF 003

 

 

DELL

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